Canada visa offices have been closed in several countries, a decision which has angered the Iranian community.
10 May 2012
Concern raised over decision to shutter Tehran's Canada visa office
Iranian community leaders in Canada have raised concern over the federal government's decision to shutter the Canada visa office in Tehran.
Prominent figures within Canada's Iranian communities say the decision to close Tehran's Canada visa office is a 'body blow to the Iranian Diaspora' within Canada and the move is 'rightly seen as an unfriendly and unfair action'.
As part of budgetary cuts, Canadian immigration authorities have closed visa offices in Iran as well as Japan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Germany with people wishing to apply for a Canada visa now having to travel to third party countries to apply.
Iranian applicants must now travel to Ankara in Turkey, Japanese to Manila in the Philippines and both Bangladeshi and Malaysian applicants will have to travel to the Canadian High Commission in Singapore.
Germany's Canada visa office, which also handles applications from the Netherlands, will be relocated to the Canadian Embassy in Vienna.
Iranian Chargé d'Affaires Kambiz Sheikh-Hassani has said that the decision to close Tehran's office 'deeply concerned the large Iranian community living in Canada and their loved ones in Iran' and that the embassy has been inundated with calls from people who 'rightly see this as an unfriendly and unfair action which will cause their family members in Iran further trouble and hardship to get their visas to come here and visit their relatives.'
Mr Sheikh-Hassani said Iranians in Canada, which the last census reported almost 100,000 people of 'recent Iranian descent' living in Canada, were being unfairly punished.
"This is not an amicable response to the noble Iranian community which are effectively contributing to the economy, science, culture and social fabric of their new place of residence," he said.
A spokesperson for the Canadian government said Tehran's office had been closed to cut costs. Although specific estimates were not provided, he said its closure would "lead to longer term efficiencies".
The Iranian government is reportedly considering responding to the closure by closing their own visa office in Canada, although Mr Sheik-Hassani could not confirm this, Jean-Bruno Villeneuve of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs dismissed the speculation.
"Iran makes its own decisions for its own reasons. We frequently disagree with the regime in Tehran. But this would be something within its sovereign rights."
The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people make their application to the Canadian Embassy.