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Flagpoling: An Alternative Approach for Canadian Visa Holders to Expedite Processing Times

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Flagpoling: An Alternative Approach for Canadian Visa Holders to Expedite Processing Times

“Border flagpole” refers to the practice where individuals with temporary status in Canada exit the country by crossing the border into the United States and promptly re-enter Canada on the same day to access immediate immigration services.

Individuals can actively engage in flagpole, which is a fully legitimate practice, at any entry point. However, it tends to occur frequently at land border crossings, particularly in Ontario’s Niagara region.

The primary advantage of opting for Flagpole to apply for a visa is the ability to bypass potentially lengthy processing times associated with traditional application methods. Depending on the visa type and the location of the application submission, significant processing times can be experienced. In contrast, by actively engaging in flagpole, you can have your visa application processed immediately, eliminating the need to wait for the application outcome.


Flagpoling: An Alternative Approach for Canadian Visa Holders to Expedite Processing Times

Furthermore, during the flagpole process, you personally submit the required documents to an immigration officer, allowing immediate feedback if any issues or errors are detected. This facilitates the opportunity to rectify any problems on the spot. In contrast, errors or mistakes in applications submitted through regular channels can result in delays.

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CBSA Reports Increased Numbers of Flagpoling

According to data from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), 21,452 individuals engaged in flagpole in 2022. While CBSA encourages people to apply online through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website to prioritize immigration applications, the flagpole has become increasingly prevalent. Consequently, CBSA has established specific dates and times at certain border crossings to accommodate individuals who intend to flagpole.

The practice is growing in popularity, mainly due to the ongoing backlog within IRCC.

Flagpoling: An Alternative Approach for Canadian Visa Holders to Expedite Processing Times

IRCC’s Service Standards and Persistent Backlog: Impact on Immigration Processes

IRCC’s service standards serve as guidelines for the anticipated duration of application processing. However, these standards differ from the actual processing timeframes employed by IRCC. Applications that exceed the service standard timeframe are classified as part of the backlog.

IRCC strives to process 80% of applications within a reasonable timeframe, varying based on the type of application. For instance, spousal and family class sponsorship applications have a processing time of 12 months, while Express Entry applications aim for a six-month processing time.

IRCC Application Backlog: Addressing Challenges and Pursuing Solutions

As of March 31st, the IRCC application backlog stood at approximately 2 million individuals across all immigration, work, study, and sponsorship categories. Out of this total, around 1.1 million applications are within the service standards, while nearly 900,000 applications remain in the backlog.

Regarding specific application types, approximately 50% of temporary and permanent residence applications are within the service standards. In comparison, about 75% of citizenship applications meet the service standards.

Recognizing the significance of the issue, IRCC has taken measures to address the backlog and aims to process 80% of applications within their service standards. As highlighted in a CBC article on flagpoling, IRCC has implemented strategies such as digitizing applications, increasing staff recruitment and training, and leveraging automation technologies to expedite processing and reduce the backlog.

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