86% drop in study permits for Canada issued to Indians from Oct-Dec 2023: Report

Terminal 1 of Toronto Airport with Air Canada aircraft and the tower.

The diplomatic strain between Canada and India, triggered by the controversy surrounding the murder of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, has had a notable impact on the number of students applying for study permits in Canada.

A senior Canadian official revealed that study permits issued to students from India have declined, attributing this downturn to the expulsion of Canadian diplomats who processed the permits, reports appearing in various sections of Indian media said.

Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, expressed his belief in an interview that the prospects for a swift rebound in the number of study permits for Indians seem unlikely.

He acknowledged that the strained relationship with India has significantly impeded the processing of applications.

Miller remarked, “Our relationship with India has really halved our ability to process a lot of applications from India,” adding that he sees no imminent improvement.

The diplomatic tension escalated when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly suggested evidence connecting Indian government agents to Nijjar’s murder in British Columbia, an accusation vehemently denied by India.

Miller indicated uncertainty about the future of the diplomatic relationship, particularly if legal charges were to be filed. He commented, “It’s not something that I see any light at the end of the tunnel on.”

Consequently, Indian students, affected by the ongoing issues, are turning to other countries for their education.

A spokesperson for Miller noted that this has led to a substantial 86% decrease in study permits issued to Indians in the fourth quarter of the previous year, dropping from 108,940 to 14,910, according to official data reported by Reuters.

C Gurusubramanian, a counsellor for the High Commission of India in Ottawa, acknowledged that some Indian international students are exploring alternative options due to concerns about insufficient residential and teaching facilities at certain Canadian institutions. Reportedly, many are now considering colleges in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Indians have historically comprised the largest group of international students in Canada, accounting for over 41% or 225,835 permits in 2022.

Beyond their academic pursuits, Indian students contribute significantly to Canadian universities, bringing in approximately C$22 billion ($16.4 billion) in revenue annually.

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