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26th Jun 2024

Canada: Students can no longer apply for post-study work permits at border

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • Effective immediately, international students in Canada may no longer apply for a post-graduation work permit (PWGP) at a Canadian border crossing
  • The new rule is meant to close a loophole through which students have attempted to circumvent processing waits for PGWP applications filed within Canada by accessing same-day immigration services at a border crossing

Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced on 21 June 2024 that, effective immediately, international students may no longer apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) at the Canadian border.

The new rule puts an end to a practice sometimes referred to as "flagpoling", where students attempt to bypass processing times for work permits within Canada by accessing same-day immigration services at a Canadian border crossing.

"Flagpoling uses significant resources at the border, taking officers away from enforcement activities, causing delays for travellers and slowing down the movement of goods," explains a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). "From 1 March 2023, to 29 February 2024, PGWP applicants represented about one fifth of the foreign nationals who attempted to flagpole."

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

IRCC notes as well that, in most cases, a study permit expires 90 days after the expected completion of an international student’s study programme. When an eligible student applies online for a PGWP before their study permit expires, they can work full-time while they wait for approval on a work permit and receive an automated letter that can be shown to employers. When a work permit is approved, it is then mailed directly to the student.

In line with the 21 June ban on flagpole applicants for PGWP, IRCC has reduced the availability of same-day immigration services at 12 ports of entry across Canada to better 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."

IRCC says it also moving to speed processing times for PGWP applications filed within Canada, simplifying the online application process for foreign graduates, and allowing PGWP holders to begin working for a new employer right away, rather than waiting to have a new PGWP application processed before making a job change.

For additional background, please see:

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