Starting Monday, March 20, NEXUS applicants can book interviews at most major Canadian airports.
The enrolment centres have been closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but were extended because of a diplomatic dispute over legal protections for American customs officers.
That has led to a huge backlog in applications. CBSA said as of March 1, 2023, the NEXUS waitlist was 269,000.
NEXUS enrolment centres will be reopening at the following airports and dates:
Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)
Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)
Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
Calgary International Airport (YYC)
Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)
Travellers who want the streamlined border-crossing benefits of a Nexus card need to go in for an enrolment centre interview held by both Canadian and U.S. officials before being granted one. Thousands of travellers request NEXUS memberships each month, CBSA said in a news release.
The 13 Canadian enrolment centres have been closed for about one year because of a dispute over legal protections for American customs officers, including the authority to be able to carry a gun while on duty.
The U.S. reopened its 13 Nexus centres in April to allow that joint interview process to continue as normal. But CBP insisted Canada grant its agents the same legal protections they enjoy on U.S. soil before returning to Canadian NEXUS centres, which Ottawa refused to entertain.
As a workaround, Canada and the U.S. began allowing Canadian applicants to be jointly interviewed at American land border crossings in order to begin addressing a backlog that reached as high as 350,000 applicants by early fall 2022.
CBSA said since Oct. 1, 2022, CBSA and CBP have completed more than 300,000 NEXUS enrolments and reduced the net inventory of applicants by approximately 130,000 from its peak in summer 2022.
On the U.S. side, where enrolment centres have been open since April 2022, what had been a 16-month wait between making an application and receiving a NEXUS card was down to between 12 and 14 months as of January 2023.
A CBSA spokesperson told Global News on Monday that the risk assessment for new applications can take up to 12-14 months. Rebecca Purdy said the closure of enrolment centres delayed the application process by up to 24 months. Waits and timelines can vary based on the location and enrolment option. Most risk assessments for renewals are done within 30 days, Purdy said.
CBSA says the new enrolment option for air travellers has two steps:
- Canadian airport enrolment centres will be staffed with CBSA officers who will complete the Canadian portion of the NEXUS interview;
- The U.S. interviews are completed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Canadian airport preclearance locations when applicants depart Canada to fly to the U.S.
International airports in Canada that offer preclearance services include those in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg, as well as Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
Conditionally-approved NEXUS applicants and renewing members who require an interview will be able to book the Canadian portion of their interview at one of these airports through the Trusted Traveller Programs scheduler as interview times become available.
Applicants have three options for their NEXUS interviews:
- A joint U.S.–Canada interview at a land enrolment centre (14 locations) in the U.S.
- A split interview at a Canadian land enrolment centre (two locations) followed by an interview at a U.S. land enrolment centre
- A two-step interview at a Canadian airport enrolment centre (eight locations), followed by an interview at a U.S. preclearance location in a Canadian airport.
Existing members who renew their membership prior to the expiry date will have it extended for up to five years to allow for the scheduling and completion of interviews, as required.
After being conditionally approved for NEXUS, applicants have up to five years to complete both the U.S. and Canadian interviews.
With files from The Canadian Press and Sean Boynton, Global News