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How will the PSAC strike affect my immigration/refugee application?

On Wednesday April 19th, 159,000 federal public servants hit the picket lines in one of the largest strikes in Canada’s history. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) strike affects more than two dozen federal departments including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB).

The PSAC strike comes amidst record-level immigration to Canada and will likely significantly set-back efforts to reduce immigration backlogs. The strike has additionally left many individuals with ongoing immigration applications or refugee claims wondering how they will be affected.

Impact of the strike on your IRCC application:

If you have submitted an application for citizenship, permanent residence, or temporary residence to Canada you may experience delays in the processing of your application. This includes citizenship, sponsorship, and economic class applications as well as applications made to work, study, and visit Canada. IRCC has stated that processing delays are to be expected due to limited capacity during the strike.

Other services that may be partially or fully disrupted include:

· Citizenship Events (e.g. tests and ceremonies);

· Passport services (domestic and abroad);

· Immigration appointments;

· Access to Information Act requests; and

· Contact Services (Client Support Centre, social media, and Web Form responses)

Despite the disruption to IRCC’s services, individuals will still be able to submit applications online or by mail and access to online accounts will remain available.

Additionally, visa processing centres at embassies and consulates outside of Canada will continue to operate because visa officers posted to these centers are not part of the strike action. Nevertheless, if the visa office application depends on corresponding with striking workers, delays will occur.

Impact of the strike on your refugee claim or other hearing:

If you have made a refugee claim to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD), have an admissibility proceeding before the Immigration Division (ID), or are seeking an appeal before the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) or Immigration Appeal Division (IAD), you will likely experience delays in the processing of your file. The IRB has stated that individuals should expect delays in the processing of their files including (i) responses to phone, fax or email enquiries; and (ii) the receiving of emails or documents. However, individuals should continue to submit any required documents within the normal timeframes. Those with hearings before RPD, RAD, ID, and IAD, may also be impacted by the labour disruption as hearings may be delayed or may not take place. Notably, detention reviews will not be affected.

If you have a scheduled hearing the IRB advises you to still appear for your hearing at the scheduled time and location unless the IRB has informed you of a change. Those whose hearings that do not begin at the scheduled time should wait for 30 minutes before leaving the hearing. IRB will then contact you to reschedule.

The experience of our office and offices of our colleagues is that most hearings are not proceeding.

For more information, contact us at:


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