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New Delhi: The second India-Canada Consular Dialogue held on Monday discussed improving consular, visa and mutual legal assistance cooperation, and strengthening people-to-people contacts.

In the Consular Dialogue, the Indian side stressed consular and visa issues, which included problems and delays in obtaining Canadian visa/work permit/PR for Indian nationals; issues being faced by Indian students in Canada; sharing of information on the arrest of Indian nationals in Canada; assistance to Indians in case of death/hospitalization/emergencies and their security; matters related to marital disputes; and problems related to fraudulent immigration/travel agents and fake job offers, read the Ministry of External Affairs release.

Both sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

Notably, Indian community is the largest diaspora in Canada.

Devesh Uttam, Joint Secretary (CPV) led the Indian delegation, while the delegation from Canada was led by Marie-Louise Hannan, Director General, South Asia Bureau at Global Affairs Canada.

Discussions were also initiated on the Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement, where the Indian side was led by Anurag Bhushan, Joint Secretary (OIA-I), added the release.

Both sides reiterated their commitment to continue to work towards solving issues relating to citizen-centric issues including reducing delays in visas and agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations through people-to-people exchanges.

The next Consular Dialogue will be held in Canada next year.

For visas to the US, UK, Canada, and several European nations, Indians are facing long delays.

It appears that these delays are a worldwide problem, as immigration offices around the world have posted signs notifying students of the situation.

According to experts, a number of factors are at play. Market participants and industry experts have identified four key causes for the increase in visa processing times: a staffing deficit at embassies, a rapid increase in tourist visa requests, a backlog of student and professional visa requests, and stricter country-by-country visa policies.

The list also includes embassy staff shortages brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak. This is happening at a time when, according to ICRA, global growth has surpassed pre-COVID levels by 72 per cent.

The Indian side has also taken up serious issues with visa applications for the UK, Canada and European countries such as Germany that are popular with Indian students and tourists. The MEA has received numerous submissions, mainly from students and business travellers, about visa delays.

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