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From June 21, 2024, you can no longer apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) at a port of entry to Canada. This applies to airport, land and marine borders. These changes are designed to reduce the number of people flagpoling at US land borders.

Key Takeaways

  • ‘Flagpoling’ is where a person exits Canada at a border (typically a land border to the US) and then immediately re-enters Canada to update or renew their immigration status.
  • It is problematic, because it places a strain on the officers at the borders in terms of managing resources, time, and application volumes. 
  • Students can apply for a PGWP online, and will be permitted to work full-time while awaiting a decision from IRCC. 

“While we continue to support and recognize the contributions of international graduates to Canada’s labour market, ‘flagpoling’ is unnecessary. 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.”

The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship


Why Are We Seeing These Changes? 

IRCC has made several changes to reduce the number of people ‘flagpoling’ at US land borders. The Government of Canada’s release notes that flagpoling “takes officers on both sides of the border away from their crucial role”

The IRCC newsroom release noted that PGWP applicants represented around one fifth of those attempting to flagpole between March 1, 2023 and February 29, 2024. So the changes proposed to the PGWP application process may immediately reduce the number of people flagpoling by around 20%.

In addition to the changes to the PGWP, Canada has also reduced the number of ports of entry that are able to process applications at the border. Other measures to reduce the amount of flagpoling includes faster processing times for in-Canada work permit applications and simplified online applications. 

So, How Can Applicants Apply For A PGWP? 

You can apply for a PGWP online before your study permit expires. 

If you are inside Canada, you can work full-time while you wait for your PGWP approval. You will receive a letter that can be shown to employers while you wait for your decision. If your PGWP is approved, you will receive it by mail at your address in Canada. The current processing time for in-Canada applicants is 101 days. 

If you wish to travel during the processing of your PGWP application, you can however you will need a valid visa to return to Canada. Upon your return, you can resume work while you wait for processing. 

For those who apply outside Canada, you will need to wait for your preliminary approval. Once you have your letter of introduction, you can come to Canada and you will receive your PGWP at the border. 

If you need more information about applying for your PGWP, see our dedicated Post-Graduation Work Permit webpage.

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About the author

Stephanie Ford profile picture

Stephanie Ford

Finance, Law and Immigration Writer
Stephanie is a content marketer who has written for law firms (with a focus on immigration and privacy), legal tech companies, and finance professionals for more than 9 years. She earned a Bachelor of Laws and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning in Australia. Stephanie is now a permanent resident of Canada and a full-time writer at Moving2Canada.
Read more about Stephanie Ford
Citation "No More Flagpoling For PGWPs." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation


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