“Flagpoling” is the term that is used when a foreign national who is in Canada exit and then immediately returns to Canada without ever actually entering the USA. They simply go to the border between Canada and the USA and travel ‘around the flagpole’ before presenting themself back at a Canadian port of entry.
This process is most often used to obtain a new temporary residence status, such as a renewed study or work permit, and at times to complete the PR process.
Although Temporary Resident Visa holders are encouraged to apply online or by the paper this process can take weeks or months to obtain a decision. Often people can’t or don't want to wait for the application to be processed by IRCC and instead physically present themselves to CBSA at a port of entry in the hopes of same-day processing.
The term Flagpoling refers to the action of a foreign national who is already in Canada but who goes to a border and travels ‘around the flagpole’ to present themself at the port of entry to apply for a new permit.
Ultimately, CBSA prefers to limit Flagpoling because it places additional strain on border services. However, it is a perfectly legal process, and application processing is done on the spot so it is a very attractive service for anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to wait.
When shouldn’t I Flagpole?
Although Flagpoling seems like the answer to the problem of waiting, there are many instances where it will create additional problems for the applicant.
Lack of status - if you lack status in Canada or have maintained status in Canada and you choose to Flagpole, you may risk being asked to leave Canada.
Ineligible to apply - some applications are not eligible to be issued at the border
Long, in-person waiting times - a cbsa officer’s primary function is not issuing work permits. If the port of entry is too busy they will turn you away and your trip will be wasted.
Inaccurate application assessment - On the same note, you risk having your application assessed incorrectly. Remember, CBSA officers are highly trained but this is not what they do all day long in the way that an IRCC officer does.
Complicated application-if your application includes any challenges you may wish to apply online. In fact, if your application is not extremely straightforward, it may be in your best interest to apply online so that you can include all of the necessary information and be sure that the time is taken to assess it.
There can be more pressure at a port of entry. You will be assessed in person by a CBSA officer who will have questions. You may find yourself feeling stressed out and you may not respond as clearly as you normally would. This may result in a denied application if the officer is not satisfied with your answers
Be mindful of entering as a visitor and then flagpoling for a work permit. You may be accused of misrepresentation if it appears as though your original intent was to work, not to visit. Misrepresentation bears a 5-year ban from Canada.
Flagpoling is a great service in many situations. However, if you are not 100% sure that you are eligible you may wish to consider an online or paper-based application.
If you have more questions or need help assessing your eligibility to Flagpole, 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!
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, 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.