According to a 2014 report by the Canada Border Services Agency from the Canadian Consulate General in Chandigarh, 2,000 Sikh religious workers from India apply every year to work at Canadian gurdwaras.
The report obtained by Lexbase, Canada’s leading immigration publication under well-known lawyer Richard Kurland, states: “Chandigarh has a large number of Sikh religious workers applying to work at gurdwaras across Canada. The number of applicants has been consistently close to 2,000 per year over the last five years and the number of gurdwaras requesting workers has grown from 61 in 2008 to 109 in 2014.”
The report by Barry Irvine CBSA Liaison Officer – Anti-Fraud (Consul), CBSA, added: “Gurdwaras are allotted a certain number of spaces and once those spaces are full, any future applicant will be refused. Those issued visas are required to report back to the Consulate to confirm departure from Canada before that space can be filled by a new applicant. Sikh religious workers fall into one of five categories: RAGI JATHA – Group of 3 hymn singers; DHADI JATHA – Group of 4 bards; KAVISHRI JATHA – Group of 3 or 4 verse narrators; KATHAVACHAK – Individual preacher; GRANTHI – Priest who performs all ceremonies.”
Referring to challenges in dealing with this category, the report stated: “Collecting annual information from the gurdwaras and administering report backs is labour intensive. The number of refugee claimants from the religious worker group (approximately 1 in 150 applicants) is somewhat larger than our regular refugee claimant rate (approximately in every 1,000 applicants).”