Canada Ends Flagpoling for Post-Graduation Work Permits

Jun 22, 2024


A recent announcement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) marks a significant change in the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) application process for international graduates. Effective immediately, foreign nationals can no longer apply for a PGWP at the border, a practice known as "flagpoling." This change aims to enhance fairness, streamline the application process, and ensure border security.

Understanding the End of Flagpoling for PGWPs

What is Flagpoling and Why Was It Used?

Flagpoling is a term used to describe the practice of temporary residents in Canada leaving the country and then re-entering to expedite the processing of their work or study permits; usually done at the port of entry (border) with the United States of America. This approach allowed applicants to bypass the typical wait times associated with online applications by receiving same-day immigration services at the border. According to IRCC, from March 1, 2023, to February 29, 2024, PGWP applicants represented about one-fifth of foreign nationals who attempted to flagpole.

For more details, read the official announcement.

The Reasons Behind the Policy Change

Flagpoling has been a strain on border resources, diverting officers from critical enforcement activities and causing delays for travelers and the movement of goods. The Honorable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, stated that flagpoling is unnecessary and compromises the integrity of the immigration system. By ending this practice, the government aims to improve efficiency at the border and ensure a secure and smooth process for all applicants.

For further insights on the policy change, check out this article.

Impact on International Graduates

Changes in the Application Process for PGWPs

With the end of flagpoling, international graduates must now apply for their PGWPs online while still in Canada. The online application process has been streamlined to be more user-friendly and efficient. Graduates can apply for their PGWP before their study permit expires and work full-time while waiting for their application to be processed. Upon approval, the work permit is mailed directly to the applicant.

How This Affects Current and Future Graduates

The immediate impact of this change is a more straightforward and consistent application process for all international graduates. Those who previously relied on flagpoling will need to adjust to the online application system. However, the government has taken steps to ensure that the online process is faster and more efficient, making it a viable alternative.

To understand more about these changes, watch this detailed explanation.

Government Efforts to Improve Application Processing

Enhancements in Processing Times

The Canadian government has made significant strides in improving the processing times for in-Canada work permit applications. Recent measures include reducing the hours for flagpoling at ports of entry and enhancing the online application system to be more integrated and modernized. These improvements are aimed at speeding up the application process and reducing the burden on border services.

Additional Measures to Support Applicants

In addition to faster processing times, the government has introduced measures to support applicants. For instance, workers can now start working for a new employer immediately upon applying for a new work permit, rather than waiting for the application to be fully processed. These changes reflect the government's commitment to maintaining a fair and efficient immigration system.

For more information on these recent measures, watch this informative video.


The decision to end flagpoling for post-graduation work permits marks a significant step towards a more fair and efficient immigration system in Canada. By streamlining the application process and enhancing border security, the government aims to support international graduates while maintaining the integrity of the immigration system. International students and graduates are encouraged to apply for their PGWPs online to benefit from the new and improved process.

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