After several weeks of uncertainty about travel to Canada, Indian students can hope for some positive development as the Indian government has officially asked the Canadian government to lift the ban on direct flights from New Delhi.
The ban on flights from India’s capital has been in effect since the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 in April and has been extended twice.
India’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ajay Bisaria, said on July 13 that it is “important to rapidly normalise mobility for economic recovery, for achieving normalcy in business and education.” Bisaria added that he discussed plans with Air India’s Toronto representative for the resumption of flights in the India-Canada corridor given the pressing needs of travellers, particularly students.
India has also urged the Canadian government to consider data on the current COVID-19 scenario and that the situation is under control in New Delhi.
Students, on the other hand, have also been reaching out to the two governments, requesting them to allow smooth student mobility and travel from India to Canada. Many Indian students enrolled in Canadian universities have been facing difficulties in returning to Canada or rejoining studies ever since the pandemic forced travel restrictions and border closures.
Most Canadian universities and institutions have adopted online teaching practices, helping students in India and other countries continue their studies and cope with the new normal. However, students are still hopeful that with the decline in cases in India, active vaccination drives, strict testing, and other stringent measures, they will be able to resume classes in person.
While Canada’s official travel advisory for India states that all flights from India will be suspended until July 21, travellers can still return to Canada via an indirect route.
But there have been reports of Indian students being stranded in transit via indirect routes because of COVID-19 protocols and restrictions in those countries, such as Serbia.
Students have been coping with visa issues, unavailability of vaccines, quarantine measures, and fewer available flights.
Indian students planning to enroll in Canadian universities are also affected by this. They have requested the two governments to open direct flights and issue e-visas to Indian students, saying the Fall intake is offline and because of the delays in visa and passport stamping, they fear missing out on the intake.
The Indian High Commissioner’s move will bring some respite and hope to such students.