Expect immigration services delays as federal workers strike

Update: On May 1, 2023, a tentative agreement was reached between 120,000 federal workers and the Treasury Board. The delays described in this blog may continue until backlogs are cleared.

More than 155,000 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) went on strike Wednesday, causing service disruptions at federal agencies across the country.

Federal employees with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Service Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) are all members of PSAC and form part of the federal worker group on strike.  Below, we have outlined some of the services that may be impacted as a result of the strike action.


Inland processing of temporary status applications will be delayed as a result of the strike. This would include extension applications for work, study or visitor status.  Online submission portals such as the Employer Portal appear to be unaffected, allowing Online Offers of Employment to be submitted.

Domestic passport services will be unavailable during the strike. Passport applications will be processed only for emergency and humanitarian situations and only at specialized passport sites.

The IRCC website was silent on how permanent residency applications would be affected.

Citizenship events and all in-person immigration-related appointments will be rescheduled. Urgent citizenship applications may still be processed.

Citizenship and passport services delivered outside of Canada may experience delays during the strike. Application forms and submitted documents can still be accessed online. Overseas interviews are proceeding as scheduled.


The CBSA website sates the agency expects to maintain services to travellers and businesses during the strike. This should allow international travellers to apply for temporary status, such as work permits, on entry to Canada. The CBSA was silent on whether flagpoling – whereby a foreign national leaves Canada and re-enters the country to make an immigration application – would still be allowed.

Service Canada

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program will experience delays, which will impact the processing of Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications. Processing activities will focus on LMIAs in the primary agriculture, food processing, trucking and health-related sectors, but applications in all sectors could face delays as a result of the strike.

Inland biometrics appointments are currently unavailable. Service Canada did not indicate whether the deadlines for biometrics will be extended as a result of the strike.

National Job Bank registrations will be fully or partially disrupted.


Other than detention reviews, hearings may be delayed or not take place as a result of the strike.

The IRB website advises hearing participants to attend their scheduled virtual, in-person and hybrid hearings unless they have been informed of a change. If the hearing does not begin within 30 minutes of the scheduled start time, participants may leave and the IRB will reschedule the hearing.

We will continue to monitor the effects of the PSAC strike as they unfold. In the meantime, if you have any questions about how this strike may impact your organization, contact our Immigration team.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.