Foreign Service Strike May Affect Festival Season

June 27, 2013 - With visa workers on strike, some foreign artists may face difficulty entering Canada this summer.

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is one of several Canadian festivals who will be affected by the delays in visa processing.

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), a union and professional association representing foreign service officers working for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), entered a legal strike position in April. Since then, it has instructed members to gradually escalate job actions, beginning with targeted walk-outs at embassies, including a picket by well-dressed diplomats in Washington in May.

However, on June 6, the scope of service withdrawal increased significantly to also involve Canadian visa workers. At several posts around the world, Canada's political, trade and immigration officers were instructed not to report to work until further notice. This includes some of Canada's largest and most important embassies and high commissions overseas. Affected Canadian offices abroad include: London, Paris, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Dublin, Hong Kong, and Canada's delegation to the European Union. All Foreign Service immigration officers in Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi and Chandigarh have also walked off the job, which will severely reduce the pace and volume of visa and immigration processing for applicants from China and India.

PAFSO officials estimate that job action by immigration officers has resulted in major delays to application processing and a significant drop in the number of visas being issued. These impacts are expected to be felt directly by Canada’s tourism industry and businesses relying on temporary foreign workers – such as festivals programming foreign artists. The Department of Citizenship & Immigration decided to shift non-striking resources toward visa processing. In spite of this, it now takes up to six weeks for visitors to get a Canadian visa. That’s up from five to ten days before June 6, when PAFSO members began withdrawing services.

Festival and seasonal presenters who programmed foreign artists should contact their foreign artists' representatives as soon as possible to inquire about the status of their visa application.

About Visa Requirements

Foreign artists who are hired to perform at a Canadian concert, series or festival may be required to obtain a temporary resident (visitor) visa. Many countries and territories have visa exemptions. However, artists from those exempted countries should still carry proper documentation of their engagements to demonstrate to immigration officers that they were invited by someone who lives in Canada, and that they will leave Canada at the end of their visit.

 

 

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