Connecting over 25 millions NRIs worldwide
Most trusted Name in the NRI media

Articles & Resources Canada
News & commentary on latest Canadian immigration issues

Canada introduces a questionnaire for Indian visitors to probe their political, religious and social ties

Nov. 08, 2008

Canada has recently implemented a new measure for the visitors from India to probe their political, religious and social ties after the reports about a militant who managed to get visitor visa to come to Canada just a six weeks earlier.

This 3-page document requests Indian visitors for information about their association with political, religious or social organizations, and details of their services in armed forces (police, paramilitary, etc.), if any, as well as details of their previous trips abroad. It also demands visitors to answer some intrusive questions such as whether they, or any of their relatives around the world, have ever had links to militant groups or done fundraising, and about any arrests or criminal charges laid against the applicant or any family members.

The questionnaire is implemented by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) as a result of few weeks earlier incident when a controversial former Sikh high priest, convicted in India for killing a rival religious leader, arrived at Vancouver International Airport with a visa before being sent back to India by the CBSA. In October 2006, the mother of a convicted assassin was also granted a visa to travel to Ontario to accept an honor for her son at the Rexdale temple. The visa was revoked after a report in the Vancouver Sun about the event.

According to the CBSA, this new requirement is in line with Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and immigration applications of concern are vetted on a case-by-case basis by the CBSA to prevent people who have committed crimes against humanity, war crimes, or who are members of a terrorist organization from reaching Canada.

Critics termed this measure "intrusive and useless", and said that tens of thousands of Indian visa applicants may not even know how to answer some of the questions. It is important to note that Canada demands some special documents from the nationals of few selected countries where applicants might have been involved in a conflict. But the questionnaires in those cases are given only to people whose cases have raised other red flags.

Indian community in Canada, especially the Sikh-Canadians, has shown their mix concerns over the issue. Abbotsford's Kalgidhar Darbar Sikh Temple president Swarn Singh Gill said there has been a crackdown on visas coming out of Punjab for some time. "We have trouble getting visas for all the jathas (preachers) coming here," he said. He has raised the issue with his local MP.

But Kashmir Singh Dhaliwal, president of Vancouver's Ross Street Temple, says he agrees with the tougher regulations. He said Canada has seen violence related to extremists and should make sure anyone with those associations does not come to visit.

Posted by Salman Hussain at 12:02 AM

Labels: canadian immigration, communities, immigration policies