Thirteen NEXUS enrollment centers in Canada remain closed even though the U.S. centers have been open since April 19. One reason why is because the Canadians do not want U.S. officers to bear arms while on duty processing NEXUS applicants, according to U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson Rhonda Lawson who was quoted by The Canadian Press in a July 23 story.
The issue of legal protections for U.S. officers was raised in an April 28 story in The Northern Light in which Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) senior spokesperson Rebecca Purdy was specifically asked if the issue of carrying weapons while on duty was the reason why the two governments had failed to reach an agreement to reopen the centers. Purdy avoided answering the question and merely replied, “The CBSA and the U.S. CBP are working together to mitigate the impact on members caused by the extended closures of the enrollment centers.”
Prior to the shutdown, Canada had 12 processing centers, mostly at international airports. Once an individual has submitted an application and received provisional approval for membership, that person needs to schedule an interview at an enrollment center. While Canadians can be interviewed at an American enrollment center, the wait for an appointment is a daunting one. Of the 12 U.S. centers, five of them, including the Blaine/Birch Bay Square office, show no availability. Two centers in Minnesota and one in Michigan show open interview slots in July and August but all three locations are remote ones. The center in Maine shows an opening in October but the remaining centers have no slots open until 2023. New appointment slots are generally made available on the first Monday of each month and occasionally a cancelation will open up a time for whoever is diligent enough to keep checking the appointment site, at bit.ly/3Ov3UP1.
In the meantime, the backlog for appointments has only gotten larger. In April, approximately 270,000 people were waiting for an interview – that figure has now ballooned to just under 342,000. Around 75 percent of NEXUS members are Canadians.
The Global Entry program could be a stopgap measure that is available to Americans, Mexicans and citizens of 13 other nations not including Canada. Global entry members can use NEXUS entry points at land and air locations, mainly in the U.S. although some countries offer expedited entry to members. Applicants can get walk-in interview appointments at numerous U.S. and Canadian airports on their arrival. For more information, go to bit.ly/3PSCW3C.
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