Thursday, May 27, 2010

Are all Immigrants with military background a suspect?

In my previous blog post, I mused about how the renewed threat of terrorism in the west is impacting innocuous globe trotters, businesses and immigration. There is another angle that seems to be picked up by the Indian media this week: former and serving members of Indian security agencies, defense service, border guards and others seem to be routinely denied visas by Canadian Embassy in India.

The fact is most western countries including US, Canada and European countries routinely deny visas to citizen of ‘third world’ and developing countries on grounds they could be prospective immigrants who (probably) will overstay their legal visas if granted. Many applicants have little recourse but to hire dubious ‘visa consultants’ or middlemen who advertise immigration services in classifieds of newspapers across south Asia. Most such cases of visa rejection don’t make news: a visa, even visitor’s or business visa to the US is still a coveted document!

The case of Indian veterans being denied visas to Canada is intriguing. The reason given by Canadian embassy for rejection is on grounds that they had served in a "sensitive location" of Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere. While talking up the issue in media, Indian bureaucrats seem to be treading on thin ice.

Questions that still go unanswered


  • Was the denial of visas to Indian veterans of faux paus by an overzealous visa official or a Canadian government policy of equating Indian Army and border guards with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or north Korean army that were cited as axis of evil?

  • Does a country (A) have a right to ask another sovereign nation (B) to reconsider visa applications to citizen of Country A? Media reports on retaliation “One way to retaliate would be to deny visas to Canadian officials who go to Afghanistan via India, said highly-placed sources.”

  • If we go with the vague presumption that Indian military personnel and veterans who had served in "sensitive locations" are somehow “guilty” and “not worthy” of visas to western nations, one would have to apply the same argument to veterans of most other nations. Citizen from countries that have mandatory military service wouldn’t be able to receive visas from western countries . . .