Updated: Mar 8
Flagpoling is the language that is used when a foreign national who is already in Canada leaves Canada and returns to Canada without crossing into the USA. The reason they may do this is to obtain a new temporary residence status such as a renewed study or work permit or to complete the PR process.
Temporary Resident Visa holders usually apply online or by paper but through this process, it can take weeks or months to obtain an answer. Often clients don't have this amount of time and if they go to a border they may be processed immediately.
The term Flagpoling exists because foreign nationals who are already in Canada must simply go to a border and travel ‘around the flagpole’ before presenting themself at the border.
Ultimately the CBSA tries 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.
Flagpoling is well known as a time-saving alternative to applying to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada, where processing times can run into weeks and months. By flagpoling, candidates present themselves at the Canadian Port of Entry, and are processed often in less than 30 minutes. There is a particular benefit to this when a foreign national is attempting to obtain a work permit because the processing times online during COVID are lengthy and many are needed to work in essential services.
Who Can Flagpole?
Flagpoling is most often used by study and work permit holders looking to renew their permits. However, there are multiple public policies now that have opened this option up to other programs.
Flagpoling is also permitted to be used as a method of validating permanent resident status. It is a quick and less expensive method of achieving PR status without waiting for an office appointment.
The following foreign nationals are permitted to Flagpole:
Residents of visa-exempt countries with an LMIA-exempt job.
Residents of visa-exempt countries in possession of a positive LMIA.
Residents of the U.S., St. Pierre & Miquelon and Greenland.
Residents of visa-required countries already in possession of a study or work permit (flagpoling for the purposes of renewal).
* Seasonal agricultural workers are not eligible to flagpole
How do you Flagpole?
When you arrive at the U.S. border control, you should inform the customs agent that you intend to flagpole. They will issue an administrative refusal to the USA and will direct you to the Canadian Border Services where you will submit the correct documentation based on the type of permit you are hoping to obtain.
Keep in mind, it is possible that you could also end up denied entry at both the US and Canadian borders which would result in you being caught between the two countries, and forced to return to your country of citizenship or residence.
What Documents Are Required?
We recommend you present a complete study or work permit package as per the document checklist for the specific application you are seeking to obtain.
Flagpoling is a great tool when used under the right circumstances. We believe you should be well prepared with the correct documentation for the process but that the benefits are considerable.
If you require assistance with your application, contact us at email@example.com to book an appointment.
Immigration Station Canada is a dedicated, professional Canadian Immigration firm practicing out of Northumberland County, just east of Toronto, in 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 link located at the top right of the page.
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.