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A Guide to Flagpoling at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara

In some situations, when applying online to IRCC, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will take too long, you may need to "Flagpole" to obtain a work permit. If you plan to do this, make sure you have valid status in Canada and if needed, a valid TRV - Temporary Resident Visa.

We have previously written about Flagpoling at Landsdowne, ON and today we will look at Flagpoling at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara.

The benefit of the Rainbow Bridge, for many, is its close proximity to Toronto. For individuals who don't have a car, this border is easily accessible and you can walk to the point of entry where you will obtain your work permit.


Generally, this is a busy border with people lining up as early as 2 am in the summer. Make sure you leave plenty of time. You may find the lineups are reduced in winter. If you travel by foot in winter, be sure to dress warmly. The wait is long and you run the risk of frostbite if you are not dressed properly for winter. We recommend good socks, snow pants, a hat, mitts, a winter coat, a scarf, and lots of layers. Some "hot pockets" are good too!

Be sure to bring some funds to cross the border. There is a fee at the bridge that must be paid before you cross.


When you cross into the US you will inform the US officer that you are Flagpoling and they will direct you back to Canada via an administrative refusal to the USA. This means you are refused but it is just because you are Flagpoling, not because there is a problem with entry. This way, you technically never enter the USA although you do leave Canada, hence you go around the flagpole. Generally, the US officers will process the administrative refusal quickly and will get you on your way.


Processing in Canada does not start until 8 am. At that time, a Canadian officer will begin processing Flagpolers. they will ask each person's purpose and explain that there are limited slots for the day. They will then instruct you to see another officer and you will be issued a yellow slip that indicates you are Flagpoling. Once completed, you will be instructed to enter Canadian immigration (CBSA) which is situated just across the street.

Inside Canadian immigration (CBSA), you will wait until your turn to be processed. It usually takes 10 to 15 minutes per person unless the case is more complicated.


Boarder services also provide the following pertinent information on its website:

"Study and work permit renewal requests, and requests for processing of confirmation of permanent residence at the Peace Bridge, Queenston-Lewiston Bridge and Rainbow Bridge

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has implemented service hours for processing confirmation of permanent residence, and work and study permit applications at the Fort Erie (Peace Bridge), Niagara-on-the-Lake (Queenston-Lewiston Bridge) and Niagara Falls (Rainbow Bridge) ports of entry made by individuals who:

  • currently reside in Canada

  • possess a valid work or study permit, or hold temporary residence status, and

  • traveled to the USA for the sole purpose of presenting their permit application at a Canadian port of entry

Should an individual meet these criteria, applications for confirmation of permanent residence or a renewed work or study permit may be made at these ports of entry on:

  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 8 am to midnight

Outside of these scheduled hours, any individual who meets the requirements outlined above and crosses the border at the Peace Bridge, Queenston-Lewiston Bridge or Rainbow Bridge to process confirmation of permanent residence or apply for a work or study permit will be admitted into Canada if they meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. However, their application will not be processed at the Fort Erie (Peace Bridge), Niagara-on-the-Lake (Queenston-Lewiston Bridge), or Niagara Falls (Rainbow Bridge) ports of entry, and they will be invited to submit their application to IRCC from within Canada.

Please be advised that even during the scheduled hours some applications might not be processed due to high volumes and excessive wait times and you may be invited to apply online. To learn more about IRCC’s services and access them, please visit IRCC or call 1-888-242-2100."

If you are seeking more information we recommend you book a consultation so that we can discuss your specific situation.

Immigration Station Canada will work with you and guide you through the best process to achieve your goals, wherever they lead!


About Us

Immigration Station Canada is a dedicated, professional Canadian Immigration firm practicing out of Northumberland County, just east of Toronto, Canada. We serve clients from Kingston, Belleville, Brighton, Cobourg, Oshawa, the GTA, Guelph, Milton, Stratford and St. Catharines and around the world. Our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, Anne C. McCaughey (Annie) is an experienced immigration services provider and a fifth-generation Canadian who values the immigration process and the unique individuals who immigrate to Canada to become part of the fabric of this wonderful country. If you would like to submit a question to Ask Annie, use the contact form.

How Can We Help? We do work permits, study permits, visitor visas, Express Entry, spousal sponsorship, family class sponsorship, and Canadian citizenship with expertise in Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications and Global Talent Stream applications. Please contact us if you would like assistance with your immigration application or to book an appointment.

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