Border agencies in Canada, US detail how the new Nexus trusted-traveler plan will work

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Published Wednesday, January 25, 2023 6:18PM EST

WASHINGTON – Canada and the United States are laying out the details of their new bilateral workaround for the Nexuss trusted-traveller system.

The biggest change, to take effect in the spring, will allow US border agents to interview Nexuss applicants at select Canadian airports before boarding a US-bound flight.

That will happen only after applicants take part in a separate, appointment-only interview with Canadian agents at a Nexuss airport enrollment center.

The Canada Border Services Agency and US Customs and Border Protection are urging travelers to allow extra time for the US interview, which will not require an appointment.

A new enrollment center staffed by officials from both agencies is also being set up in Ogdensburg, NY, near the Prescott, Ont., land entry point south of Ottawa.

Eligible airports – where passengers can pre-clear US customs – are in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Winnipeg.

“The US portion of the Nexuss interview will be conducted by CBP officers in the preclearance area of ​​a Canadian airport before the applicant departs for the United States,” the two agencies said in a news release.

“Applicants will not need to schedule appointments for the US interview but are encouraged to build in time to their travel plans to allow for this interview to take place before their departure.”

Existing Nexuss members who renew their cards before they expire will have their benefits extended for up to five years to allow time for the interview process, if necessary.

The news release also confirms that the two countries are exploring whether to expand the new “split interview” process now in place at the Thousand Islands and Peace Bridge land entry points in Ontario.

That process requires applicants to submit to an interview with Canadian agents before crossing the border to sit down with their US counterparts.

The agencies say they have completed more than 200,000 enrollments since Oct. 1 and reduced the application backlog by 100,000 since it peaked last summer.

The US also has 13 enrollment centers where applicants have the option to schedule same-day interviews with agents from both countries.

While those centers reopened in April after closing during the COVID-19 pandemic, most enrollment centers in Canada remain closed for lack of US agents to staff them.

Customs and Border Protection has refused to provide agents to work on Canadian soil without a guarantee that they would receive the same legal protections and authority afforded to their counterparts working at the land border or airport preclearance windows.

“CBP officers conducting trusted-traveller program enrollment in the preclearance areas of Canadian airports for travelers departing for the United States will have the same legal authorities as when performing other preclearance functions,” the release says.

That, the two countries agree, constitutes “preclearance activity” as spelled out in the 2015 agreement that allows the system to operate.

“Therefore, in the future, should Canada conduct preclearance in the United States, CBSA officers are performing Nexuss enrollment in those preclearance areas for travelers departing for Canada would similarly be covered by the provisions of the (agreement).”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2023.

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