This article was originally published in the September 2011
Issue of Immigration Law News.
Temporary foreign workers ("TFWs") are non-Canadians
or non-Canadian permanent residents permitted to work in Canada for
a temporary duration accompanied by a work permit. If a labour
dispute exists at a workplace, immigration law prohibits issuing
work permits if the TFW's intended work could adversely affect
the settlement of the labour dispute or the employment of any
person involved in the dispute.
As a result, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will refuse new
permits to new TFWs during a labour dispute. The one exception to
this rule is where all, or almost all, of the individuals on strike
are TFWs and issuing a work permit would not contravene existing
While new TFWs cannot enter Canada to work during a labour
dispute, TFWs already in Canada when a labour dispute commences
have different rights.
Can a TFW in Canada take part in a
TFWs already in Canada can take part in lawfully authorized
strikes. These workers are entitled to strike pay at the same rate
as other employees in the same situation.
If a TFW on strike leaves Canada, will he or she be
allowed back into the country?
TFWs can leave and re-enter Canada during the validity of their
work permit and any visas they may require. The existence of a
strike or lockout will not result in a denial of entry to
However, if a TFW's work permit expires while he or she is
outside of Canada, a new work permit may be denied because of the
In all cases, TFWs must meet the regular immigration criteria
any foreign nationals must meet when entering Canada to work.
If a TFW is in Canada and his/her work permit expires
during a labour dispute, can the work permit be
TFWs in Canada during a labour dispute can submit an application
to extend their stay in Canada as long as the application is filed
prior to the expiry of their work permit. In labour disputes,
Citizenship and Immigration Canada will place the application on
hold for four months. During this time, the TFW will remain legally
entitled to work for his/her current employer. Citizenship and
Immigration Canada will monitor the strike situation before making
a final decision on the application.
If a TFW wants to find other employment during a
strike, is this permissible?
TFWs involved in labour disputes can look for a new employer or
for secondary employment as long as they go through the regular
procedures. The fact that a labour dispute exists at a TFW's
employer should have no bearing on these types of applications.
This article is prepared for general information purposes
only. The contents should not be viewed as legal advice or opinion.
If you have specific questions concerning immigration law, you
should discuss them with a legal advisor of your choice.
Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author.