Flagpoling in Canada – How to Cross the Border for good


Do you want to renew your study visa or work permit without wasting much time? Flagpoling might be the best option for you.

If you do not know what it is or how to go about it, no need to worry, because all the information you need is right here. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about flagpoling in Canada.

Including what flagpoling is, flagpoling at border crossing, how to flagpole without a visa, IRCC Requirements for Flagpoling into Canada among other useful information.

What is Flagpoling in Canada?

Are you still confused about what flagpoling in Canada is? Don’t be! We’ll simplify everything for you.

The term ‘flagpoling’ in Canada is used to describe a process whereby foreign nationals in Canada go to the Canada – US border, enter the US briefly, and then apply for a visa upon re-entering Canada.

That is, a person who is not a Canadian but is already in Canada goes to a border and travel ‘around the flagpole’ before applying for visa.

Usually, there are many reasons why people flagpole.

It might be either to obtain a new temporary residence status such as a renewed study or work permit or to complete the PR process.

Normally, individuals with Temporary Resident Visas usually apply online or by paper.

But, through this process it can take weeks or months to obtain an answer.

As a result, many individuals do not have such amount of time and if they go to a border they may be processed immediately.

However, the CBSA tries to limit Flagpoling because it places additional strain on border services.

In any case, it is a perfectly legal process, and application processing is done on the spot.

Why Flagpole?

It’s a popular option to applying to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, where processing delays might take weeks and often several months.

Here, candidates present themselves at the Canadian Port of Entry via flagpoling and are often processed in less than 30 minutes.

Traveling ‘around the flagpole’ before presenting yourself at the border gave rise to the nickname or terminology.

Flagpoling at Border Crossing

This strategy or flagpoling process is used to activate a new permanent resident status, renew a study or work permit, or modify an individual’s immigration status. Generally, when applying to the IRCC, people use this strategy to save time.

Certainly, when a person flagpoles, they present themselves at a Canadian Port of Entry, where their application is usually completed in under 30 minutes.

However, when it comes to flagpoling, the first challenge is getting to the border. This isn’t a tough process if you live near the border and have a car.

But, it can be a costly excursion if you don’t. As part of the flagpoling process, you must travel to the United States.

Agian, you will not be able to complete the flagpoling process if you are not allowed to enter the United States.

There’s also the possibility of getting caught between the two countries and being denied entry to both. Before making any decisions, it is usually a good idea to consult with an immigration consultant.

Who Can Flagpole?

Generally, study and work permit holders who want to renew their permits use flagpoling. They take all of their documentation to a U.S. border crossing station, where it may be processed in minutes.

It’s also utilized by temporary residents in Canada who want to confirm their status as permanent residents. It’s a quick and cheap alternative to waiting months for an IRCC appointment.

The following category of candidate can flagpole:

  • Residents of visa-exempt countries with an LMIA-exempt job.
  • Nationals of visa-exempt countries in possession of a positive LMIA.
  • Nationals of the U.S., St. Pierre & Miquelon and Greenland.
  • Residents of visa-required countries who already have a work or study permit (flagpoling for the purposes of renewal).

IRCC Requirements to Flagpole

A candidate should inform the customs agent of his or her plan to directly flagpole after arriving at US border control. A slip with an administrative refusal to the US will be issued.

Candidates are then led to the Canadian border control, where, depending on the purpose of the flagpoling trip, the proper documentation must be presented.

What Documents Are Required by IRCC?

If you are eligible for flagpoling for renewing work permit, study permit or to validating your permanent residence status, you need to have all the necessary documents with you at the time of application, namely:

For Work Permit:

  • Passport.
  • Job contract signed by candidate and employer.
  • Plus if required: Positive LMIA, Provincial nomination certificate, Letter of support from provincial nomination program and up-to-date or valid medical examination certificate if employed in public health or have stayed for six months in certain countries.

For Study Permit:

  • Official letter of acceptance from a recognised designated educational institution.
  • Financial proof is required.
  • In addition, if necessary: Letter of explanation, Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ), Custodian declaration (minors only) and various other documents.

For Permanent Residence Validation:

  • Passport or travel document with visa sticker.
  • Permanent residence confirmation or a letter from the Canadian visa office.
  • Proof of legal status in Canada, such as one of the following: Study Permit, Work Permit, Temporary Residence Visa or Other documents.
  • Proof of implied status, for example: Payment receipt or Copy of extension application.

Problems facing people who flagpole?

While border processing is quick once you arrive, you must still travel to the border and join the queue.

This is simple if you live near the border and have a car, but it can take time and money if you don’t. It will, however, be faster than applying to the IRCC.

It’s a good idea to plan a trip to the United States in your flagpoling process.  You will be formally denied entrance if you choose to flagpole without visiting the United States.

While this is acceptable as part of a one-time process, it will complicate matters in the future when you enter the United States, since you will be questioned if you have ever been denied admission. This can be avoided by planning a day tripor excursion.

In principle, you could get caught in the middle of the two countries and be denied entry to both.

How to Schedule A form for Canada Immigration

In which Canadian province can one flagpole?

You must enter Canada through land ports or Port of entry (POE) that handle immigration applications in order to flagpole. A list of land crossings between Canada and the United States is provided below:

  • St-Armand/Philipsburg
  • St-Bernard-de-Lacolle: Highway 15
  • Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge(Travellers only)
  • Niagara Falls Whirlpool Bridge (NEXUS members only)
  • Queenston Lewiston Bridge (Travellers and Commercial)
  • Rainbow Bridge
  • Sarnia (Blue Water Bridge)
  • Sault Ste. Marie Bridge
  • Peace Bridge
  • Among many other border crossings not listed here.

Please Note: The above information may be subject to change. For the most up-to-date list, visit the CBSA website.

In addition, some border crossings may offer limited services or limited hours of operation. As a result, make contact with them or refer to reliable sources before approaching them.

Finally, should an individual meet these requirements, applications for a new study or work permit may be made at St-Bernard-de-Lacolle and St-Armand/Philipsburg as follows:

  • Monday to Thursday, from noon to 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


In summary, when you flagpole you do not need to worry about where to submit your application, or whether to apply online or on paper.

Instead, you hand over the required documents to a person standing in front of you, and the visa application is processed while you are physically present.

The process often take about 30 minutes. It is the fastest way of renewing your work or study permit, especially, if you don’t want to go through the delays by IRCC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Flagpoling a crime?

When temporary residents in Canada cross the border only for the goal of turning around and receiving quick immigration services at a port of entry, this is known as flagpoling. It’s a fully legal and considerably faster method of processing their documents.

What Is Flagpoling and how does it work?

When a person already in Canada departs and returns without crossing into the United States in order to activate a new permanent resident status or renew a study or work permit, this is known as flagpoling.

Do I need a visa to see the flagpole in the United States?

A US visa is not required to flagpole. You won’t be flag-poling if you have a US visa. You’d have to travel to the United States and then return to Canada. This is due to the fact that officials cannot refuse you entry to the United States if you have a valid US visa.



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