Flagpoling is not illegal

Jamaica To Canada

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

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Dear Mr Brown,

I am currently studying in Canada and have been hearing a lot about flagpoling. I would like my wife to apply for a permit from the US border to stay with me. I am wondering if this is the best way of applying for her permit.

— WB

Dear WB:

Flagpoling refers to temporary residents of Canada applying for a visa or permit at a border crossing with the United States.

Advantages of flagpoling

Flagpoling has been the preferred way to obtain and validate Canadian immigration status for those who are already in Canada because it typically takes less than 30 minutes for the border processing, allowing applicants to bypass the weeks or months for the immigration department to process the same application or schedule a permanent resident landing interview inside Canada.

By comparison, renewing a permit via mail can take months.

Disadvantages of flagpoling

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) adopted a flagpoling pilot project in order to:

• Address the high volume and excessive wait times at the land ports of entry due to flagpole cases from Friday through Monday. The agency's southern Ontario ports of entry processed 4.5 million travellers at the Rainbow, Queenston and Peace bridges, with another 1.2 million at the St-Bernard-de-Lacolle and St-Armand/Philipsburg border entries.

• Manage its immigration-related services during peak traffic times while ensuring critical resources are focused on national security and trade priorities.

The exponential increase in people getting applications processed at the border has caused backlogs and have strained the operations of the CBSA. The CBSA prefers that such applications be processed by an immigration office.

It has been reported that CBSA agents create arbitrary limits for the number of flagpolers they would accept each day.

Therefore, I encourage applicants to apply online to avoid any potential issues, as I have received many e-mails from applicants who have had bad experiences of not having their applications processed at the border, and being threatened with revocation of their visas.

I wish to re-iterate that flagpoling is not illegal and can be a convenient option for those wishing to renew a temporary work or study permit. However, it seems to be discouraged by the CBSA.

I have received a great deal of negative feedback recently over such applications, so I normally discourage it if the application is not an emergency.

Please visit jamaica2canada.com for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programmes, including Express Entry, The Study & Work programme, Visas or Appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM—a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to jamaica2canada@gmail.com.

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