Pax Global Media
After months of delays, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has reopened two NEXUS and FAST enrolment centres in Canada.
Applicants can now schedule interviews at the Lansdowne, ON (Thousand Islands Bridge) and Fort Erie, ON (Peace Bridge) enrolment centres, the agency announced Monday (Dec. 5).
The reopening of these centres with CBSA officers is the “first phase of the solution” to address the NEXUS and FAST backlog, according to a press release.
As a result, more appointments will be available to applicants, and wait times for interviews are expected to be reduced.
The news comes amid a political squabble between Canada and the United States that has delayed the reopening of Canada’s Nexus enrolment offices.
The conflict is opaque, but it has to do with a request by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency that its agents be granted the same legal protections inside Nexus facilities in Canada that they currently have at other entry points, such as airports and the Canada-U.S. border.
READ MORE: Nexus dispute should be “an easy one to resolve,” says industry minister
There seems to be a disagreement over immunity from prosecution. The U.S. is arguing that its employees in Nexus offices deserve the same level of protections as diplomats from Canadian prosecution while doing their job in Canada.
During the pandemic, new and existing Canadian Nexus-pass holders requiring in-person interviews have had to travel to the U.S., where enrolment offices have been open since April, to complete their applications.
With Monday’s announcement, more Canadians will be able to get in on the program that expedites the border clearance process for pre-approved, NEXUS members travelling between Canada and U.S.
New two-step process
The reopened centres will be required to complete a new, two-step process.
Applicants who are conditionally-approved for NEXUS can complete the first portion of their interview at a Canadian enrolment centre (in Lansdowne, ON, or Fort Erie, ON) and complete the second portion at a nearby U.S. enrolment centre just across the border (Alexandria Bay, NY, and Buffalo, NY, respectively).
Interviews are by appointment only and can be scheduled through the Trusted Traveller portal.
As this initial phase continues, more enrolment centres in Canada will open at additional select land border crossings in the future, said CBSA.
Applicants continue to have the option to schedule their complete interviews, under the one-step process, at enrolment centres in the U.S.
Existing members can also renew their membership prior to the expiry date to retain their membership benefits for up to five years while they await an interview (if they need one).
"NEXUS and FAST are a win-win for Canada and the United States – and we're working hard to find creative solutions to reduce wait times, address the backlog and help more travellers get NEXUS cards,” stated Minister of Public Safety Marco E.L. Mendicino.
“This new, two-step process is further proof of our commitment to it. We'll keep finding solutions that leverage technology and streamline renewals."
The NEXUS program currently has more than 1.7 million members, says CBSA.
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