February 6, 2023

WASHINGTON – Canada and the United States are finalizing the details of their new bilateral workaround for the Nexus Trusted Traveler system. The biggest change, set to take effect in the spring, will allow US

WASHINGTON – Canada and the United States are finalizing the details of their new bilateral workaround for the Nexus Trusted Traveler system.

The biggest change, taking effect in the spring, will allow US border officials to interview Nexus applicants at select Canadian airports before boarding a flight bound for the US.

This is only after applicants have attended a separate interview with Canadian agents at a Nexus airport registration center.

The Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are urging travelers to allow additional time for the U.S. interview, which does not require an appointment.

Also, a new registration center staffed by officials from both agencies will be established in Ogdensburg, NY, near the Prescott, Ontario land entry point, just 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 Nexus interview will be conducted by CBP officials in the pre-clearance area of ​​a Canadian airport before the applicant flies to the United States,” the two agencies said in a press release.

“Applicants are not required to schedule an interview in the United States, but are encouraged to plan their travel plans ahead of time so that this interview can take place prior to their departure.”

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

The press release also confirms that the two countries are evaluating whether to expand the new “split interview” process now being rolled out at the Thousand Islands and Peace Bridge land entry points in Ontario.

This process requires applicants to undergo 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 applications since Oct. 1 and reduced the application backlog by 100,000 since its peak last summer.

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

While these centers reopened in April after closing during the COVID-19 pandemic, most enrollment centers in Canada remain closed due to a lack of U.S. agents to staff them.

Customs and Border Protection has refused to provide agents to work on Canadian soil without a guarantee that they will receive the same legal protections and powers as their counterparts working at land borders or airport pre-clearance windows .

“CBP officers conducting Trusted Traveler program registration in the preclearance areas of Canadian airports for travelers departing to the United States will have the same statutory authority as when performing other preclearance functions,” it said it in the press release.

This, the two countries agree, constitutes a “preliminary screening activity” as specified in the 2015 agreement that allows the system to operate.

“Therefore, should Canada conduct pre-clearance in the United States in the future, CBSA officers conducting nexus registration in those pre-clearance areas for travelers departing to Canada would also be covered by the provisions of the[Agreement].”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 25, 2023.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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