Home Immigration ‘Flagpoling’ banned: Ottawa ends border application for post-graduation work permits

‘Flagpoling’ banned: Ottawa ends border application for post-graduation work permits

by HR News Canada

The federal government has announced that foreign nationals will no longer be able to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) at the border.

Effective immediately, this change is designed to reduce the practice known as “flagpoling,” where temporary residents leave Canada and re-enter immediately to expedite their permit applications, according to a press release issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

Flagpoling, which allows applicants to bypass the typical wait times for online permit applications, has been a significant drain on border resources, it said. PGWP applicants accounted for approximately one-fifth of the foreign nationals attempting to flagpole between March 1, 2023, and Feb. 29, 2024, it said.

“While we continue to support and recognize the contributions of international graduates to Canada’s labour market, ‘flagpoling’ is unnecessary,” said Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “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. This measure will help prevent this practice, while maintaining the integrity of our immigration system.”

Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions, and Intergovernmental Affairs, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the burden placed on border services officers by flagpoling.

“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,” he stated.

The government is encouraging applicants to submit their PGWP applications within Canada, promising improvements in processing times and a more integrated, modernized, and centralized working environment to speed up application processing globally.

International students, who typically must apply for a PGWP before their study permits expire, will benefit from these changes, according to CIC. By applying online, they can work full-time while waiting for their permit approval and receive an automated letter to show to employers.

Recent measures to address flagpoling also include reducing flagpoling hours at 12 Canadian ports of entry, speeding up processing times for in-Canada work permit applications, and simplifying online application processes. Additionally, new regulations allow workers to start with a new employer immediately, without waiting for their new work permit to be processed, it said.

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