Canadian visa applications delayed due to immigration officers strike

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Continuing strike of the Canadian Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) is causing long waits for many Canadian visa applicants. Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), students and tourists are particularly affected by the current strike. According to some industry bodies in Canada if the strike is not resolved fast there is a high possibility that the applicants will choose another country. In recent years, Canada has become very attractive to Chinese and Mexican visitors.

PAFSO is the union of the Canadian Government staff. It includes immigration officers as well as diplomats. PAFSO members have been engaged in industrial action since June 6th.

There has been a series of co-ordinated walk-outs by PAFSO members. The union warns that its action will escalate if its demands are not met. The union says that its members are paid between CAN$3,000 and $14,000 per year less than government workers in other departments who do similar work.

The Canadian Government, however, does not seem to back down and to prevent further action. It says that the staff of PAFSO have other benefits such as contribution to their dry cleaning bills, free vehicles, and an ‘incentive allowance’ for working abroad. They contribute to their slightly lower salary.

Since June 6th, the waiting time for visas in Mexico and China has increased from between five and ten days to over six weeks. David Goldstein of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada said ‘coming at this time of year, it’s going to be devastating. If it’s going to take 90 days to get a visa, people are going to be looking for other locations’. He warned that the disruption would be likely to cause long-term reputational damage.

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