The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is advising temporary residents to avoid flagpoling and to utilize online immigration services instead. Flagpoling refers to the practice where temporary residents in Canada depart and return within 24 hours to seek immigration services at a port of entry (POE) or border crossing.

The CBSA highlights that those who choose to visit a POE for immigration services may encounter long lines, potentially waiting until the end of service hours without being attended to. Additionally, flagpoling services are available only at select border crossings.

Flagpoling Service Locations and Hours

For those who still opt for flagpoling, careful planning is necessary due to limited hours of service. Effective May 30, 2024, flagpoling services will be available only at specific ports of entry. Notably, there has been a reduction in flagpoling hours in the Pacific region. The designated locations and their operating hours are as follows:

Southern Ontario Region:

  • Fort Erie (Peace Bridge): Tuesday to Thursday, 8 am to midnight
  • Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge: Tuesday to Thursday, 8 am to midnight
  • Queenston-Lewiston Bridge: Tuesday to Thursday, 8 am to midnight

Quebec Region:

  • Armstrong: Monday to Thursday, 12 pm to 7 pm
  • Saint Armand/Philipsburg: Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 3 pm
  • Saint Bernard-de-Lacolle: Monday to Thursday, 12 pm to 7 pm
  • Stanstead Route 55: Monday to Thursday, 8 am to 5 pm

Pacific Region:

  • Abbotsford-Huntingdon: Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm
  • Aldergrove: Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm
  • Boundary Bay: Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 2 pm
  • Douglas: Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm
  • Pacific Highway: Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm

Benefits of Online Applications

The CBSA recommends that temporary residents renew their work or study permits online well in advance. This approach ensures that they may receive a new permit by mail before the current one expires. Additionally, temporary residents can continue working or studying even if their current permit expires while waiting for the new one, under what is known as “maintained status.”

Common Immigration Services Accessed via Flagpoling

Temporary residents often use flagpoling to access various immigration services at the border to avoid long processing times through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Common services accessed via flagpoling include:

  • Soft landings for those approved for permanent residency, who exit and re-enter to officially confirm their status.
  • Extensions of temporary resident status.
  • Obtaining new study or work permits or renewals.

Potential Issues with Flagpoling

While flagpoling is a legal and useful option, it is not without risks. CBSA officers have the authority to refuse admission and detain individuals. Furthermore, both the US and Canadian borders may deny entry, potentially leaving individuals stranded between countries and forced to return to their home country. Common issues at the border include:

  • No CBSA immigration officer available to handle the request.
  • The border only accepts applications on specific days or during specific hours.
  • The CBSA has reached its daily quota for applications.
  • Applicants do not meet the requirements or lack necessary documents.
  • A CBSA officer finds the applicant inadmissible to Canada.

Flagpoling remains a viable option but requires thorough preparation and compliance with all requirements. To avoid complications, temporary residents are strongly encouraged to use online immigration services and ensure all necessary documentation is in order.