No More Flagpoling for PGWPs

As of June 21, 2024, recent graduates from Canadian schools are no longer eligible to apply for Post Graduation Work Permits at a port of entry (via flagpoling). What does this entail for new graduates in Canada?

Global Bridge Immigration - Flagpole Canada PGWPs

Recently, IRCC provided a program delivery update for post-graduation work permit (PGWP) applications. The update was simple: applicants can no longer apply at a port of entry (or “flagpole”). So, what does this mean? Well first, let’s look at what a “port of entry” and “flagpoling” actually are. 


Port of Entry

A port of entry, also abbreviated as POE, is an entry point into Canada from abroad. It could be a land border, an airport, or a seaport. It is important to mention that the borders are controlled by the Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA, and not IRCC. So, while some foreign nationals can make applications at a POE, it must be understood that it is not IRCC processing their application, but a CBSA officer.



Flagpoling is the act of leaving Canada via land border with the United States and immediately (or shortly thereafter) returning for the purpose of changing one’s immigration status in Canada. One prime example of this, which was evidently rampant enough to have the policy changed, was recent graduates on study permits wanting to apply for post-graduation work permits. 


The primary reason one would choose to flagpole instead of applying online from within Canada boils down to processing times. Indeed, why would an applicant wait for 4, 5, 6+ months for an application to process with few updates on the status, when they could get same-day processing at a POE? 


Flagpoling comes with risks, however. When an individual makes an application to change their status at a POE, a CBSA officer is not only processing their application, but their likelihood of complying with their temporary status when entering Canada (per their roles as border agents). In some cases, this could mean the individual actually being refused entry back into Canada if, for example, they had previously been in Canada without status. Or, the border crossing and its agents may simply be too busy to process applications at that time and tell an individual to return another day. For those who do not live near the border, this by itself could be enough to dissuade someone from trying to flagpole.


While flagpoling is not exactly a “loophole”, as the regulations under IRPR do allow for some applications to be submitted at a POE, it has been a constant thorn in CBSA’s side as it is creates additional work and puts a strain on the already busy border services agency. But with this change in the PGWP application policy, this can help ease CBSA’s burdens and simultaneously put the processing back to IRCC for applications that must now be submitted online.


Who Can Flagpole

Although all PGWPs must now be submitted online (or on paper in specific situations), some different types of applications may still be made at a POE. For example, citizens and permanent residents of the United States, and residents of Greenland and St. Pierre and Miquelon are allowed to apply at the POE for a study permit. 


If you have decided you want to apply at a POE for a new status, it is important to find out if you are allowed to do so for your specific type of application before you leave Canada!


How to Apply for a PGWP

With the option to apply for a PGWP at a POE now removed, this leaves applying online the only other solution. While an application made online may not provide same-day service, IRCC has stated that they intend to speed up processing on these and other applications in the future. This seems like a reasonable compromise for all involved, where CBSA does not need to be bogged down by flagpoling, while at the same time PGWP applicants do not necessarily have to wait too long for a new work permit. 


If you have a question about your eligibility for a post-graduation work permit, or want to ask if flagpoling might be an option for you, feel free to reach out to us!


Craig Lont / Associate RCIC

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