June 21, 2024—Ottawa

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a significant change to the application process for post-graduation work permits (PGWPs) today. Effective immediately, foreign nationals will no longer be able to apply for a PGWP at the Canada–United States border, a practice commonly known as “flagpoling.”

Flagpoling involves temporary residents of Canada leaving the country and immediately re-entering to receive same-day immigration services, thereby bypassing the normal wait times involved in applying for a work or study permit online.

From March 1, 2023, to February 29, 2024, PGWP applicants accounted for about one-fifth of the foreign nationals attempting to flagpole. In response, the Government of Canada is encouraging applicants to apply within Canada, aiming to improve processing times and moving toward a more integrated, modernized, and centralized working environment to expedite application processing globally.

In this instance, we agree with the Government of Canada that applying for PGWPs at the border places an undue strain on border resources on both sides. That said, for the system to be fair, the processing timeframes for in-land applications that are sent to Edmonton, Alberta must be greatly improved. As of this writing, processing timeframes for in-land applications are dismal and are harming applicants. IRCC must do better and fast.

Quotes

Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, emphasized the necessity of this measure, stating, “While we continue to support and recognize the contributions of international graduates to Canada’s labour market, ‘flagpoling’ is unnecessary. The time and effort required to process applications from ‘flagpolers’ takes officers on both sides of the border away from their crucial role in protecting the safety, security, and prosperity of Canadians and Americans.”

Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions, and Intergovernmental Affairs, added, “Flagpoling places an undue burden on our border services officers. With this change, we’re taking a measured approach to combatting the issue and putting an even greater focus on maintaining the integrity of our shared border with the United States.”

Quick Facts

  • A study permit typically expires 90 days after the expected completion of an international student’s study program.
  • Eligible graduating students who apply online for a PGWP before their study permit expires can work full-time while waiting for approval and receive an automated letter for employers.
  • When approved, the work permit is mailed directly to the applicant.
  • Flagpoling hours have been reduced at 12 ports of entry across Canada to enhance efficiency and focus on high-risk travelers and trade facilitation.

Recent Measures to Address Flagpoling

  • Speeding Up Processing Times: For in-Canada work permit applications.
  • Simplifying Online Applications: Making it easier for foreign nationals to continue working while awaiting a decision.
  • Immediate Work Authorization: Allowing workers to start new employment immediately, rather than waiting for new work permit application processing.

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