Removing an enforcement flag – border crossing issues

Enforcement Flags Canada

Elina, a Greek Cypriot, holds a valid eTA. She has travelled to Canada multiple times. However, Border Services Officers send her to secondary examination every time. They will then interview her extensively. Someone told Elina that CBSA had imposed an enforcement flag on her. Consequently, Elina wonders how she could remove the enforcement flag and resolve her border crossing issues.

Understanding the primary and secondary inspection lines

An enforcement flag sends you straightly to the secondary examination at the port of entry. But what is the secondary examination? When you reach a Canadian port of entry, an officer checks your passport and asks some preliminary questions. This encounter happens at the Primary Inspection Line (PIL). Of course, you sometimes scan your passports and documents at an ABC Kiosk and do not interact with an officer. Regardless, your entry to Canada happens after CBSA clears you at the PIL. If they don’t, then they will send you the Secondary Examination. Being sent to the secondary examination is not necessarily a bad thing. Here are some potential reasons:

Of course, this list is not comprehensive but gives you an idea about the process.

What is an enforcement flag?

Border Services Officers refer to a unique database, IPIL, to process an entry application. If the officer finds an enforcement flag about you in IPIL, they will immediately send you to the secondary examination. The flag is usually the result of your previous encounters with the CBSA. However, it could also appear because of a note on your FOSS or GCMS records that triggers IPIL. In other words, if the officer realizes they must send you to the secondary examination regardless of your application, you face an enforcement flag. Such flags are not equivalent to inadmissibility, but they could be annoying. A secondary examination could be lengthy. Consequently, you may face significant delays before getting permission to enter Canada. Moreover, you may end up disclosing intimate aspects of your life to an officer.

Who may face enforcement flags?

A typical enforcement flag is for foreign nationals and permanent residents. Therefore, Canadian citizens and Registered Indians are immune to them. However, the border officers could also notice enforcement flags for these two groups. The reason is that before becoming a citizen or the Registered Indian recognition, CBSA had flagged them. On these occasions, the officers expire the flag. You may also remind them that you have the right to enter Canada and ask them to remove it.

How to request the removal of an enforcement flag?

If you are facing a removal flag, you could take the following steps for removal:

  1. Request the CBSA officers’ notes about you. You may hire me to assist you with this task.
  2. Ask a professional to review the notes and come up with a convincing explanation that addresses the CBSA concerns.
  3. Prepare supporting documents.
  4. The next time you travel to Canada, present those documents to CBSA and ask them to remove the flag.

The CBSA officers remove flags at their discretion. Removing a flag disconnects IPIL from the notes. However, the notes remain intact. If you face another incident, then CBSA may activate your flag immediately. Also, CBSA officers usually do not contact their Operation Support Centre and process the application at their discretion. Therefore, to succeed, consider the following:

  • Take convincing supporting documents to the port of entry (POE).
  • Preferably go the same POE that initially issued the enforcement flag.

Let us help!

Removing an enforcement flag is not necessarily an easy task. If you need our help, please fill out the following form. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session with me. I also offer mentorship sessions for licensed practitioners. Our assessment form is another way to show your interest in moving to Canada.

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    Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.