Many people entering Canada find themselves at customs being constantly referred to secondary examination. There, they are often told by the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA“) that their referral to secondary examination was the mandatory result of an enforcement flag being on their file.
Referral to secondary examination is time consuming. Unnecessary referrals are a burden on both travellers and CBSA. Because of this, CBSA was traditionally quite facilitative when it came to individuals requesting that an enforcement flag on their file be removed. As a supervisor from the CBSA explained to me in an e-mail, enforcement flag removal works as follows:
The flag removal process doesn’t delete information, it merely closes the connection between the immigration database and the integrated system on the primary inspection line on that specific client. The process is not visible to the naked eye – I use this analogy:
You get a lamp for a wedding present from “her” mom. You hate it. It’s a motion sensor lamp and it is hardwired into the wall. You can’t get rid of it, you can’t unplug it, you can’t take the light bulb out but you want the thing to stop lighting up every time you walk by. So, you unscrew the light bulb just enough that it doesn’t make contact. It’s still there, it’s still safe but it won’t ever light up again.
That’s what the flag removal does… we leave everything in place, but alter it slightly so that when the client shows up at the primary line, his name doesn’t light up!
As evidenced from the above e-mail, individuals could traditionally e-mail the CBSA directly to ask that the enforcement flag be removed. The CBSA almost always responded favourably within 48 hours. It was excellent customer service.Read more ›
Last updated on July 22nd, 2018
I was recently asked where one can learn how to request that an “enforcement flag” against them be removed so that an individual does not have to go to a secondary examination every time they enter Canada.
This is actually a question that comes up rather frequently, so for all those who are interested, here is the relevant section from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Manual:
There are other ways to remove enforcement flags where the procedure outlined above is not working.Read more ›