Applying to get into the fast lane across the Canada-United States border is coming to a grinding halt for many Canadians.
The NEXUS pass program is currently experiencing major backlogs, with more than 341,688 applications currently in the queue.
Vancouver resident Barbara Collins is so worried her daughter is going to lose her NEXUS card she has booked a trip for the two of them across the U.S. border to Warroad, Minn.
Her daughter Aeon’s card was set to expire in 2020, but a two-year extension was given due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since before the pandemic, Collins has been trying to schedule an interview for her daughter in order to complete the renewal.
Nexus offices still closed because of standoff with U.S. over guns
The Canadian offices were closed in 2020 and have not reopened. The American offices just recently reopened and it has been extremely difficult finding an appointment.
“My daughter’s NEXUS is expiring in September 2022 and we have no idea what we are going to do,” Collins said.
“The problem is we go across the border a bunch of times a month to see my widow mother across the border, and we don’t want to have to wait in line.”
Collins acknowledges she is fortunate to have the means to travel half way across the continent to access an available appointment.
There is little information on the NEXUS website available as to what happens once a card is two years past an original expiry.
Historically, once a card expires, the individual must start the application process over.
“What I am worried about is they have two weeks to approve after the interview. What if they don’t approve it? It is money down the drain?” Collins asked.
“We have no idea what is going to happen when the two-year period is up. Whether they will just cancel all, or continue on.”
More than 295,000 Nexus applications stuck in system backlog
NEXUS is a joint program managed by both the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Canada and the U.S. are in discussions about the timing of the reopening of Canadian enrolment centres.
One of the hold-ups is around whether U.S. officers will be allowed to carry guns while working in Canadian enrolment centres. Until the difference is worked out, enrolment centres in Canada will continue to be closed.
Warning for expired NEXUS cardholders now that COVID-19 testing requirements have lifted
Existing NEXUS members who renew their membership prior to the expiry date will retain their benefits, allowing them to continue to use their membership privileges.
“There are legitimate concerns about labour, I understand that, but having disputes over this makes no sense to me,” Jill Wykes from Snowbirdadvisor.ca said.
Patrick Ah-Yu has been awaiting a NEXUS renewal since 2019. He applied in 2019, before his card expired, and was informed the renewal required an interview.
He scheduled his first interview for April 2020 and it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
After they began taking interviews again he rescheduled for September 2021 and that was cancelled also.
He now has just a few weeks before the card expires with no appointments available in Canada or close in the U.S.
“You are just along for the ride,” Ah-Yu said. “It is out of my hands. I have to wait until they say ‘we can do (the) interview, or you have to start again.’ It is frustrating.”
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