Canada’s embassy in Tehran said on Sunday it has closed its visa section effective immediately as a cost-cutting measure that will affect thousands of Iranians.
Visa services for Iran have been transferred to the Canadian embassy in Ankara, the capital of neighbouring Turkey, the Tehran mission said in a statement on its website.
Callers to the embassy’s telephone number were also informed that the visa section was closed and no longer accepting visa applications.
The embassy statement said the closure was decided by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada department, which regularly “explores ways of doing business more effectively and efficiently.”
It said the decision affecting the Tehran embassy’s visa activities “is not uncommon” and that a new computerised system was enabling visa officers around the world to share the workload.
There are more than 120,000 people of Iranian origin or descent living in Canada, according to official 2006 census data, with thousands of their relatives in Iran visiting them every year.
Canada has in recent years been seen by many educated Iranians as a desirable destination to migrate to, though restrictions on that flow have recently been applied.
The visa office closure by Canada further narrowed options for Iranians looking to travel to Western nations, following Britain’s decision at the end of November last year to close its embassy entirely after Iranian pro-regime militants stormed it.
The United States has no embassy in Iran, having closed its mission in 1980 after Islamic students broke in and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.