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We’re getting married in India, but diplomatic tensions could jeopardize our wedding plans

Paluck Kohli, a Toronto-based impact evaluation specialist, and her fiancé Ro, a financial data analyst, are both originally from India. However, when Ro received his Canadian citizenship in August, he had to give up his Indian citizenship as India does not allow dual citizenship. This posed a potential problem for their upcoming wedding in India, as Ro would now have to apply for a visitor’s visa. Unfortunately, their plans were further complicated when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of being involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader who lived in British Columbia. As a result, India suspended its visa service for Canadians, putting their wedding in jeopardy. Here is their story.

In June of 2019, I moved from my hometown of New Delhi to Kingston, Ontario to pursue a business degree at Queen’s University. I was drawn to Canada for its diverse culture and opportunities in my field of study, which focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. After completing my degree, I moved to Toronto and began working for a social innovation charity, where I focused on impact measurement, client engagement, and communications.

In August of 2022, Ro and I were introduced through our parents. Like me, he is also from India, but he had moved to Dubai for school at the age of 16, and then to the U.S. and eventually to Vancouver. Despite the distance, we hit it off and he flew to Toronto to meet me in person a month after we connected online. I was impressed by his life experiences and how he had adapted to living away from home at such a young age. Our relationship progressed quickly, and we discussed marriage and our future together. We both loved Canada for its inclusivity and natural beauty, and saw it as a great place to start a family. We were unsure whether we would settle in Toronto or Vancouver, as we both had remote jobs – Ro as a financial analyst – and planned to split our time between the two cities before making a decision. However, before moving in together, we wanted to get married.

In January of 2023, we returned to India for an engagement ceremony and began planning our wedding for December in Amritsar, Ro’s birthplace. In April of 2023, we both applied for Canadian citizenship. Ro’s application was processed faster than mine, and he was invited to take his citizenship test in July, which he passed with flying colours. In early August, while he was visiting me in Toronto, he received notice to take his oath of citizenship virtually in a few days. He felt unprepared as he did not have any formal clothes with him, and we even joked about him borrowing one of my work blazers for the occasion. To celebrate, I bought him some maple sugar, a Canadian fridge magnet, and a luggage tag, and we went out for dinner afterwards. He was overjoyed to finally become a Canadian citizen, but also had mixed emotions as he had to give up his Indian citizenship.

Despite the excitement of Ro becoming a Canadian citizen, the situation was bittersweet as it meant he would now have to apply for a visitor’s visa to attend our wedding in India. This was made even more complicated by the recent accusations made by Prime Minister Trudeau against the Indian government. As a result, India suspended its visa service for Canadians, putting our wedding plans in jeopardy. 

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