International Workers Legal Fund (I.W.L.F.)

The International Workers Legal Fund (I.W.L.F.) covers eligible expenses for members who are experiencing troubles related to their visa and/or immigration status that interfere with their ability to perform their Unit 1 work. The fund has temporarily been expanded to cover additional expenses following on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Local’s Equity Funds Committee (anonymously) reviews applications for the Survivors Fund, Trans Fund, and International Legal Workers Fund. The Secretary Treasurer, Vice Chair of Unit 1, Chair/Chair’s designate, and, ideally, 2 community members per fund sit on this committee. If you are interested in participating, please write to the Secretary Treasurer at

*This is a member driven fund that came out of members needs, and was specifically modeled on the CUPE 3903 Sexual Assault Survivor Fund. If you identify as in the group this fund intends to serve and have constructive feedback, please write to the Secretary Treasurer at*

Who is eligible to apply to the fund?

Each year of the International Workers Legal Fund (1 May – 30 April), anyone who meets the following criteria is eligible to apply:

  1. You have secured at least 1 hour of Unit 1 work by the time the application is made, or have a guaranteed subsequent appointment.
  2. You are international (i.e., not a citizen or permanent resident of Canada).
  3. You are experiencing legal troubles related to your visa and/or immigration status that interfere with your ability to perform your Unit 1 work.
What expenses are eligible for reimbursement?

Understanding that your status as an international worker can impact many areas of life, the fund deliberately does not define all eligible expenses. Members are invited to submit claims for any expenses they consider eligible.

The IWLF is intended to assist members with legal costs associated with an emergency situation such as deportation. (It is not meant to cover costs associated with applying for permanent residency or citizenship, applying for or renewing a visa, or routine legal costs related to immigration.) Examples of eligible expenses include:

  1. Legal fees related to an emergency immigration situation (for members and/or their dependents).
  2. Associated filing fees.
  3. Childcare needed to make legal appointments.
  4. Transportation to and from legal appointments.
  5. Lost wages for days in court.
  6. Emergency repatriation, including moving fees, travel costs, etc.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fund has temporarily been expanded to also cover:

  1. Emergency healthcare insurance expenses for members who had to make emergency trips to their country of citizenship and purchase additional healthcare insurance (on top of the travel health insurance provided by Green Shield Canada) to support their time spent in that country.
  2. Emergency travel (e.g., emergency return home to care for relatives; repatriation; re-location from residence) and, related, emergency lodging.
  3. Emergency health care not covered by travel insurance.

Expenses incurred in the fund year (1 May – 30 April) will be eligible for reimbursement.

How much money will I get?

The fund has been allocated $25,000 per year. There is a $5,000 per person per fund year cap, and a $15,000 per person total cap.

The fund year turns over on 1 May, so it is possible to maximize benefits by submitting two back-to-back applications, one in April and the other in May. 

If there are monies left over after the fund has reimbursed all eligible claims, the remainder of the monies will be reallocated to the USAF for that year.

When will I get my money?

Applications are open year-round, and processed on a rolling basis, monthly or as needed. Disbursements will follow within one month of successful application.

How will disbursement decisions be made?

Applications will be reviewed and eligibility decisions made on a case-by-case basis by the Equity Funds Committee. The Equity Funds Committee is comprised of the Secretary-Treasurer, the Chair (or designate), the Vice-Chairs of any Unit with Equity Funds, and two members per Equity Fund to represent the relevant constituencies, to be appointed by the Executive Committee after a call for applications.

The Secretary-Treasurer chairs meetings of the Equity Funds Committee, presenting an anonymized and paraphrased version of each application to the committee for review. No other officer or member of the Local has access to Equity Fund applications.

How do I apply?

If you have worked 1+ hour since 1 May of the fund year, the application form will be available online and accessible through the Union’s website. To find the application, login to the Member Portal (found by scrolling up to the top right of this page), and select the ‘Forms’ tab.

A complete application for the fund will include:

  1. Political membership — you must have signed a membership card or filled out a Membership Application Form. (If you do not have a CUPE No. (found on the left-hand side of the Portal home page), then you have yet to gain political membership. To do so, select the ‘Forms’ tab and fill out the Membership Application Form PLEASE NOTE: processing membership applications can take up to four (4) business days.)
  2. The International Workers Legal Fund Application Form.
  3. Supporting documentation — this documentation should include a statement outlining the need for which funding is being requested, and any other supporting documentation you may have (receipts, invoices, letters of support, etc.).

You will receive an automatic confirmation email for each application you submit. PLEASE NOTE: if you do not receive a confirmation email you did not successfully submit the application.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The fund year is 1 May – 30 April. The fund cap per person per year resets every year.