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Old Nov 9th 2017, 4:06 pm   #1
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Default Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

Hi all,

I'm seeing a lot of posts on various expat sites about the Niagara and Lewiston bridges being problematic, with a lot of people being turned away!

I need to go and activate my work visa next week as I potentially have a job starting in 2 weeks time. I will only have wednesday/thursday to do it and I don't want to be turned away repeatedly and not be able to activate it. Especially since my girlfriend will be taking 2 days off work to help me get there and back.

Has anyone got any advice on flagpoling at these bridges? Or has anyone completed it elsewhere such as Sarnia? Getting worried and any advice would be appreciated!!

Thank you!
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 4:15 pm   #2
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

I think there are quite a few who have flagpoled at Niagara without issues... obviously no one can guarantee. Sarnia would probably also be fine, though a longer drive.

The other option if you want to be really fool-proof about it would be to fly to the US and then fly back so you can enter Canada at an airport.

I would think you'd be fine to do it at any border, though.
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 5:51 pm   #3
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

We flagpoled at Lewiston...no problem. I can’t remember anyone being turned away. The only problem I’ve ever had with the land border is traffic. We’ve waited up to 2 hours to get to the US border...there again it can be 10/15 mins.
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 6:50 pm   #4
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

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Originally Posted by Jerseygirl View Post
We flagpoled at Lewiston...no problem. I can’t remember anyone being turned away. The only problem I’ve ever had with the land border is traffic. We’ve waited up to 2 hours to get to the US border...there again it can be 10/15 mins.

There's a handy app for getting border wait times. It has proved invaluable to me when I'm deciding among the 3 border crossings I most commonly take - Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge or Queenston-Lewiston Bridge.
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 6:53 pm   #5
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

Where are you coming from? If it's GTA then Sarnia can be a bit of a trek. Lewiston or Peace Bridge are a lot closer.

Traffic is a very good point for the Buffalo side of things. Check to see if there is any major event going on, for example a hockey or (American) football game, and what time it finishes. The Peace Bridge tends to get very busy post-game.

This is a seriously handy link: Traffic Conditions

I use that whenever I'm going to / from Buffalo.

Also, if you're on the QEW, it can get snarled up between Third Line and Brant Street. If we're going on a weekend, we tend to make sure we've left oakville before around 11:30, otherwise you usually get caught in the slow traffic. It tends to get better once you're over the burlington skyway.

If I had to choose a crossing, I'd go for Lewiston, but I'm biased as that's where I cross 99% of the time, and also where my girlfriend activated her PR and we didn't encounter any problems.
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 6:59 pm   #6
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

Back in July this year, I had to help my gf flagpole. She was was turned away at rainbow bridge (we were there at 7.45 in the morning) At that time, they told everyone they were no longer accepting flagpoles, which is fair enough.

Then I drove her down to peace bridge and flagpoled with ease. If you can drive, maybe take that option?
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 7:26 pm   #7
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

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Originally Posted by sharkus View Post
Also, if you're on the QEW, it can get snarled up between Third Line and Brant Street. If we're going on a weekend, we tend to make sure we've left oakville before around 11:30, otherwise you usually get caught in the slow traffic. It tends to get better once you're over the burlington skyway.
If you are 2+ people in the car, though, you can jump into the HOV lane which rarely suffers the same traffic issues and you can pretty well fly down from Trafalgar all the way to Brant.

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Originally Posted by mahdawg View Post
Back in July this year, I had to help my gf flagpole. She was was turned away at rainbow bridge (we were there at 7.45 in the morning) At that time, they told everyone they were no longer accepting flagpoles, which is fair enough.

Then I drove her down to peace bridge and flagpoled with ease. If you can drive, maybe take that option?
At least there's the second option right down the street, so it wouldn't turn into a wasted trip. They may just redirect people to the Peace Bridge instead to consolidate.
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 7:46 pm   #8
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

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Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
There's a handy app for getting border wait times. It has proved invaluable to me when I'm deciding among the 3 border crossings I most commonly take - Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge or Queenston-Lewiston Bridge.
For the last 3 years we have had NEXUS and use the Whirlpool Bridge...which means we more or less drive straight through. Wish we had applied for it 13 years earlier.
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 7:46 pm   #9
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

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Originally Posted by SchnookoLoly View Post
If you are 2+ people in the car, though, you can jump into the HOV lane which rarely suffers the same traffic issues and you can pretty well fly down from Trafalgar all the way to Brant
We have tried that before and still got nailed by slow traffic I feel we're unlucky
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 8:48 pm   #10
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

Hi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobius1988 View Post
Hi all,

I'm seeing a lot of posts on various expat sites about the Niagara and Lewiston bridges being problematic, with a lot of people being turned away!

I need to go and activate my work visa next week as I potentially have a job starting in 2 weeks time. I will only have wednesday/thursday to do it and I don't want to be turned away repeatedly and not be able to activate it. Especially since my girlfriend will be taking 2 days off work to help me get there and back.

Has anyone got any advice on flagpoling at these bridges? Or has anyone completed it elsewhere such as Sarnia? Getting worried and any advice would be appreciated!!

Thank you!
1, Here is what CBSA says

"
To alleviate pressure at land border crossings, the CBSA informally announced today that it will no longer be permitting flag-poling at certain high volume ports-of-entry in the Southern Ontario Region during peak periods (i.e. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, or Mondays), effective immediately. The ports-of-entry affected by this initiative include:
– Queenston;
– Niagara Falls;
– Rainbow Bridge; and
– Fort Erie (Peace Bridge).
If a foreign national attempts to flag-pole at the above ports-of-entry between Friday and Monday, it is likely that their examination will be deferred and they will be directed to return to that port-of-entry on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. "

Others not listed may turn you away as well and if it is busy on the Tue/Wed/Thur, you may also be turned away.
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 8:50 pm   #11
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PMM View Post
Hi



1, Here is what CBSA says

"
To alleviate pressure at land border crossings, the CBSA informally announced today that it will no longer be permitting flag-poling at certain high volume ports-of-entry in the Southern Ontario Region during peak periods (i.e. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, or Mondays), effective immediately. The ports-of-entry affected by this initiative include:
– Queenston;
– Niagara Falls;
– Rainbow Bridge; and
– Fort Erie (Peace Bridge).
If a foreign national attempts to flag-pole at the above ports-of-entry between Friday and Monday, it is likely that their examination will be deferred and they will be directed to return to that port-of-entry on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. "

Others not listed may turn you away as well and if it is busy on the Tue/Wed/Thur, you may also be turned away.


After crossing the border in that area hundreds of times over the last 15 years...I would agree that mid week...late morning to early afternoon...are the quietest times to cross by car. The CBSA office has seemed fairly quiet around that time too.
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Old Nov 9th 2017, 10:09 pm   #12
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

Also bearing in mind this weekend is a long weekend so traffic is usually heavier.
On the flip side its not the busy tourist season so traffic should be lighter during the week.
Basically they are saying don't flagpole on a weekend or Monday.
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Old Nov 11th 2017, 7:14 pm   #13
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

Thanks for all the tips so far everyone.

Looks like most people have regularly crossed the borders without issue repeatedly...the problem here is that to activate a work visa as you come back through they seem to be currently turning a lot of people away due to too many applications per day. Though I noticed someone above mentioned that they were turned away at Rainbow and managed to get it sorted at another bridge.

I'm currently living in Owen Sound which is equal distance to Niagara and to Sarnia, so I can go to either. It seems like the safest bet is to go to Sarnia, especially since it wasnt on the posted list about restricted bridges.

Thanks again!
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Old Nov 11th 2017, 7:15 pm   #14
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Default Re: Where should I flagpole in Ontario? Niagara seems risky!

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Originally Posted by Mobius1988 View Post
Thanks for all the tips so far everyone.

Looks like most people have regularly crossed the borders without issue repeatedly...the problem here is that to activate a work visa as you come back through they seem to be currently turning a lot of people away due to too many applications per day. Though I noticed someone above mentioned that they were turned away at Rainbow and managed to get it sorted at another bridge.

I'm currently living in Owen Sound which is equal distance to Niagara and to Sarnia, so I can go to either. It seems like the safest bet is to go to Sarnia, especially since it wasnt on the posted list about restricted bridges.

Thanks again!
We went to Lewiston...it’s a new building and there always seems to be plenty of officers there.

I thought Rainbow Bridge was the one directly linking both Niagara towns at the US/Canada border...right by The Falls. It is only a small border crossing compared to Lewiston.
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Last edited by Jerseygirl; Nov 11th 2017 at 7:18 pm.
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