What is the change? Following stalled labor negotiations, Canada Post has given notice that postal workers will be locked out as of Friday unless the parties reach a last-minute agreement.

What does the change mean? If the lockout occurs, mail acceptance and delivery will stop. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has issued operational instructions in the event of suspension of postal services.

  • Implementation time frame:  A lockout would occur no earlier than Friday.
  • Visas/permits affected: All Canada Post mail services.
  • Who is affected: Immigration-related applicants using Canada Post mail services or awaiting decisions from IRCC through Canada Post mail services.
  • Impact on processing times: Standard processing times will remain in place, but nonurgent outgoing mail will be put on hold by IRCC until mail services resume. Payments sent by IRCC to recipients (refunds or resettlement support payments) will be sent by courier.
  • Business impact: Employers and individuals should anticipate delays in receiving approvals of work permit renewals, as IRCC uses only regular mail to send them. Applicants should submit applications and supporting documents electronically where allowed.
  • Next steps: Applicants should consider contingency planning before Friday for time-sensitive applications and mailings.

Background: Canada Post and the union representing approximately 50,000 postal workers have been in contract negotiations since December over pay raises for rural workers, retirement benefits and overtime. Last week, the union entered a legal strike position. On Tuesday, Canada Post gave 72 hours’ notice of suspension of the collective bargaining agreement.

IRCC has instructed that all lines of immigration-related service will be affected. IRCC will hold all nonurgent outgoing mail during a postal lockout or strike except for payments to recipients, which will be delivered by courier where available.

Applicants should apply online where permitted, and IRCC will accept electronic forms and supporting documents but reserves the right to request hard copies.

Standard processing times will remain in place. When mail services resume, IRCC will process applications in the order of the postage date stamps on the mailings.

BAL Analysis: In the event of a postal lockout or labor strike, employers and individuals are reminded that issuance of their work permit renewals will be on hold. Clients may contact their BAL professional for further guidance on the appropriate action for each type of request.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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