Planning a visit to Canada? It would be prudent to apply weeks in advance since several Foreign Service Officers of the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi are said to be on strike.

They have joined their peers in other Canadian missions across the globe seeking higher wages, multiple sources close to the development told Business Line.

A spokesperson for the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi did not respond to a detailed questionnaire Business Line sent on July 9.

VFS Global, which works as the outsourcing and technology services provider to the Canadian Mission, has advised applicants to apply ‘well in advance’, without giving any specific reason.

“Current turnaround time for first response on visitor visa applications is about three weeks and applicants are being informed of this at the time of submission of their application. Any urgent travel and compassionate cases are informed to the (Canadian) mission separately and they are accorded priority as per the exigency,” Vishal Jairath, Regional Head – South Asia, VFS Global, said in an email response.

Under normal circumstances, the average waiting time for visitor visas is around four days at the High Commission in New Delhi, and 11 days at the Consulate General in Chandigarh, according to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Web site.

“The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) union is currently taking strike action. PAFSO union members responsible for processing visa applications have been walking out of offices in Canada and overseas. Posted processing times for both temporary and permanent resident visa applications do not take into account work stoppages,” says a post dated July 3 on the CIC Web site.

The Canadian High Commission receives 1,000 visa application – including those for student’ permits and work permits – on a daily basis, according to a source.

(This article was published on July 10, 2013)
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