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Canada: strike causes severe visa processing lags

A strike by Canadian foreign service officers threatens to affect student mobility into the country as visa processing times around the world have become severely delayed. Citizenship and Immigration and Canada (CIC) has alerted students to “anticipate delays and submit their application as far in advance as possible”.

The CIC website informs potential applicants that contingency plans are in place to provide a minimum level of service

Languages Canada members have felt a "definite impact" on registrations

Hitting Canadian schools and colleges at the height of their busy season, Languages Canada, the representing body of language training centres, reports members have felt a “definite impact” on registrations.

“We are very concerned about the impact of the strike, and have expressed our concern to the Ministers of Citizenship and Immigration, International Trade, and Foreign Affairs, requesting immediate action,” Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director of Languages Canada told The PIE News.

“We are very concerned about our students and the impact this will have on their plans, their investment, and their education.”

Since the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) went on strike almost a month ago services have been withdrawn from posts in Canada and overseas including Beijing, Shanghai, Moscow, Manila, Mexico City and Delhi.

“The situation in Russia, Germany, and a few other countries seems more pronounced”

Extended waiting times are currently unknown, however according to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, visitors from Mexico and China must wait six weeks, up from five to 10 days before the strike.

Peralta says some countries are more deadlocked than others. “Many countries have been affected, and although hard numbers are impossible to confirm, the situation in Russia, Germany, and a few others seems more pronounced than in others.”

Higher education institutions have been hit as well. “These kids have paid the tuition fees, but they may not be able to get their visas,” Toronto immigration lawyer Stephen Green told The Star after receiving calls from HEIs concerned about their international students failing to get study visas in time for September.

Visa delays have hampered the international education industry in Canada for several years, caused mostly by spending cuts and the country’s rising success in positioning itself as a study destination.

Earlier this year, CIC  said it was committed to processing 80% of student visas in less than 60 days. In the current situation, the CIC says contingency plans are in place to ensure all offices remain open and are providing at least a minimum level of service.

It confirmed that the projected visa times published earlier this year to offer guidance to students are not accurate at this time and that priority will be placed on urgent humanitarian applications.

More than 320 of the 1,350 PAFSO members are immigration officers.

The association says it is striking against pay inequalities between it and other government departments. “While we’re eager to get back to work, these disruptions will continue until the Treasury Board offers a fair deal to our members,” Tim Edwards, PAFSO President said in a statement.

The CIC says it continues to closely monitor the situation.

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One Response to Canada: strike causes severe visa processing lags

  1. After 2 and a half years of jumping through hoops and getting various paperwork, I was offered a job as a nurse in Vancouver. Had to spend some more time to satisfy the Visa requirements and submitted my application, only for the PAFSO to go on strike. Brilliant.
    Their messing with people’s lives here, both sides need to sort this out now! My future employer has changed my start date 3 times because of this, how much longer should they keep my position for me is a very question. I was offered my job last September and should had started my new job on May 1st. This situation is really getting out of hand!!!

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