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Foreign nationals who want to work in Canada must apply for their first work permit outside Canada.

If foreign national is in his/her country of origin  (country which issued his/her passport) or in any other country where he or she has legal status) then that foreign national is expected to apply for his first first work permit at the Canadian visa office which covers his country of origin or the country where he or she legally resides (it is also possible to apply for first work permit online on the CIC Internet web site).

If however a foreign national is in Canada and wants to apply for his or her first work permit and remain in Canada and start working when the work permit is approved then their options are
  1. To apply for their first work permit in the US or
  2. Apply for their first work permit at the Canadian border (port of entry).

If first option is chosen one should keep in mind that Canadian visa officer in the US may request in-person interview before work permit is issued, which means foreign national (the applicant) must have valid US visitor visa (if applicable) to enter the US and attend that appointment.

In case of the second option, if you choose to apply for your first work permit at the Canadian border (port of entry) you will go through a fairly standardized procedure which is commonly called "flagpoling" because what you will be doing at the border in a way resembles walking around Canadian border flag-pole.

Please keep in mind this option is available only to those foreign nationals who do not require visitor visa to enter Canada. If you do need visitor visa to enter Canada this option may not be for you (although I know several cases where visitors with multiple entry visitor visas managed to apply for work permit at the port of entry).

Flagpoling is legal and it is based on sections 198 and 200 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) whereby temporary residents of Canada can physically
leave Canada and re-enter at a Canada/US land port of entry (POE) to apply for a work permit
, study permit or to confirm landing after being issued a Confirmation of Permanent Resident status letter from CIC.

First you will approach Canadian CBSA officer and explicitly tell them you are there to do flagpoling and apply for your new work permit. They will give you a piece of paper and direct you to walk from the Canadian side of the border to the US side of the border.

When you get to the US border office building you will show the paper to the US border services officer and tell them the same thing (that you are there to do flagpoling in order to apply for your work permit).

They will take your paper, formally deny you entry into US and send you back to the Canadian side of the border.

When you get back to the CBSA office they will speak with you and most likely issue your new work permit. The whole process may ideally take 30-60 minutes.

While flagpoling is smooth and reasonably pleasant experience for most applicants in a small number of cases it turns out to be a sheer nightmare - people are kept at the border for hours, investigated/interrogated as if they have committed some horrible crime and often denied work permit and sometimes asked to leave Canada soon thereafter.


We can prepare you for the flagpoling; we can tell you the details of the process, what documents to take with you, when to show up at the border crossing, which border crossing to choose, how to dress for that occasion, how to adjust your attitude to fit that situation, what kind of questions you may expect etc.

This is extremely important in cases such as situation when you enter Canada as a tourist (you tell CBSA officer at the airport you are coming to Canada as a tourist) and a few short months later you show up at the border telling CBSA officers you would like to apply for work permit.


We charge $200 (tax included) for one hour of Skype consultations for flagpoling preparation.