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Nexus Update: On Day 2 of the North American Leaders Summit, Canada and US have reached a solution on the disputed Nexus trusted-traveler program. While details are pending, twitter updates from media houses suggest that “the solution” is simply a workaround to speed up application processing. Not a final solution. And this article on the Globe and Mail states that this workaround is a two-step interview process, where Canadian applicants will complete their first-interview at a Canadian airport before boarding their flight to US. Once in US, they would head to a US customs office to complete their second Nexus interview.
US and Canada have been locked into a cold war like impasse over the beloved Nexus program, since 2020 when COVID rendered Nexus offices shut in both countries. While Nexus offices in US reopened in April 2022, Canadian Nexus locations remained closed. In December 2022, two Nexus locations in Canada reopened (Fort Erie and Lansdowne, Ontario), but they hardly dented the backlog of 300,000+ applications in the system. Both locations in Canada require applicants to undergo a two-step interview process (similar to the workaround mentioned above, minus the airport) – first with Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) on the Canadian side, and then with U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the US side.
What is the bun fight about?
Simply put, CBP wants their officers to be afforded same legal protections inside Nexus locations in Canada, as they currently have at other ports of entry (airports, ports, etc.). Canada does not see the need to extend the additional protections (usually for American Diplomats) to CBP officers on Canadian soil.
So CBP decided to not staff the Canadian Nexus offices until this was resolved. Since a key step to approving Nexus applications is an interview by both sides, Canadian locations were left without any CBP presence and unable to process Nexus applications. Nexus program in Canada had been held hostage, imo. So it was no surprise that the Save Nexus website, a campaign by Canadian American Business Council garnered thousands of emails to local MP’s, to help save Nexus program in Canada.
I dont think today’s Nexus update ends the bun fight necessarily, since no concrete solutions to the actual conflict (of CBP officers’ protections in Canada) have been laid out.
Nexus going forward
Nexus membership ($50) has been without a doubt my best investent in travel. It has saved me hundreds of hours in wait times when going to the US, and same when using Nexus kiosks upon return to Canada. Nexus also comes with the benefits of Global Entry which is just the cherry on top for all members.
It’s 2023, and we need 2023 solutions. Personally, I would like to see Nexus adopt the 100% digital approach where applicant interviews can be conducted online, and biometric data gathering done through verified local agencies. This will bypass the current conflict over CBP officers’ need for additional protections at Canadian Nexus locations. But a process overhaul of this stature will likely need its own “road map”.
Have you applied for a Nexus membership recently? Share your experience with a comment below!
Title Image Credit: (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)