Key Highlights:

  • International students in Canada are no longer allowed to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) at a Canadian border crossing.
  • The new rule aims to close a loophole where students used same-day immigration services at the border to bypass processing waits for PGWP applications within Canada.
  • This practice, known as “flagpoling,” has been resource-intensive and caused delays for other border services.

New Rule Announcement:

  • On 21 June 2024, Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced the immediate cessation of the practice allowing international students to apply for PGWPs at the border.
  • The change targets the practice of “flagpoling,” where students attempted to expedite their PGWP processing by using same-day services at border crossings.

Reasons for the Change:

  • According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), flagpoling diverts significant resources at the border, detracting from enforcement activities and causing delays for travelers and the movement of goods.
  • From 1 March 2023 to 29 February 2024, PGWP applicants represented about one fifth of foreign nationals attempting to flagpole.
  • Minister Miller emphasized that while the contributions of international graduates to Canada’s labor market are recognized, flagpoling is unnecessary and strains border resources.

Processing PGWP Applications:

  • Typically, a study permit in Canada expires 90 days after the expected completion of an international student’s study program.
  • Eligible students who apply online for a PGWP before their study permit expires can work full-time while awaiting approval and receive an automated letter to show employers.
  • Once a work permit is approved, it is mailed directly to the student.

Impact on Border Services:

  • Following the 21 June ban on flagpole applicants for PGWPs, IRCC has reduced same-day immigration services at 12 Canadian ports of entry.
  • This reduction is intended to allow border services officers to process the high volume of travelers efficiently and focus on high-risk travelers and trade facilitation.

Measures to Improve PGWP Application Processing:

  • IRCC is taking steps to speed up the processing times for PGWP applications filed within Canada.
  • The online application process for foreign graduates is being simplified.
  • PGWP holders are now allowed to begin working for a new employer immediately, rather than waiting for a new PGWP application to be processed before changing jobs.

Conclusion:

The new rule prohibiting the application of PGWPs at Canadian border crossings aims to streamline border operations and ensure resources are used efficiently. By eliminating the practice of flagpoling, Canada intends to maintain the integrity of its immigration system while continuing to support international graduates’ contributions to the labor market. Enhanced measures for processing PGWP applications within Canada are expected to provide a more efficient and straightforward experience for international students.

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