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Foreign nationals can no longer apply for work permits at the U.S.-Canada border

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Foreign nationals will no longer be able to apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) at the U.S.-Canada border, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said on Friday.

Miller said the move was being implemented to curtail something known as “flagpoling,” which is when some temporary residents of Canada  bypass the normal wait times involved in applying for a work or study permit online by leaving the country and then immediately re-entering to receive same-day immigration services.

“The time and effort required to process applications from ‘flagpolers’ takes officers on both sides of the border away from their crucial role in protecting the safety, security and prosperity of Canadians and Americans. This measure will help prevent this practice, while maintaining the integrity of our immigration system,” Miller said in a statement Friday.

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Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said, “Flagpoling places an undue burden on our border services officers.”

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Essentially, when flagpoling, a person exits Canada and reports to U.S. border officials, indicating that they intend to return to Canada and not to remain in the United States.

Upon reaching the Canadian point of entry, CBSA can then consider the person’s application for the immigration service they are looking to receive.

In its statement, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said, “Flagpoling hours were recently reduced at 12 ports of entry across Canada to allow border services officers to efficiently process the large volume of travellers in peak periods and to focus on other key priorities, including high-risk travellers and trade facilitation.”

The agency said it was hoping to encourage temporary residents to apply for work permits in Canada, rather than resort to flagpoling.

To that end, IRCC said it was speeding up processing times for in-Canada work permit applications, simplifying online application forms and processes and authorizing workers to start working for a new employer right away, rather than waiting to have their new work permit application processed before changing jobs.

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— with files from Global’s Saba Aziz

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