- Canada’s Nexus backlog has grown to thousands of applications despite a sharp decline in applicants during the pandemic.
- Wykes questioned why enrolment centers had been closed for months while other government offices have remained open.
- Meanwhile, the CBSA reported an 11,018, according to the CBSA, backlog in the Fast program for cross-border commercial truck drivers.
Despite a steep drop in applicants during the pandemic, Canada’s backlog of Nexus applications has swollen into thousands.
Due to continuous office closures necessitated by COVID-19, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reports that 295,133 Nexus applications have yet to be completed.
Applicants for the program, which allows pre-approved Canadians to travel to the United States through separate, faster lines, must be risk-assessed by the CBSA and US Customs and Border Protection.
On April 19, the American agency reopened its Nexus enrolling centers for applicant interviews, although the Canadian locations remained closed after closing in March 2020.
As a result of the backlog, some Nexus members have difficulty scheduling sit-downs until their cards expire. Canadian residents seeking to renew their status could only schedule interviews at a few border community offices with limited slots.
Traveling pensioners are among those who are frustrated by the gridlock.
“Many snowbirds visit the United States regularly. They frequently travel back and forth, and many of them, including myself, have Nexus cards,” said Jill Wykes, publisher of Snowbird Advisor, an online resource for snowbirds.
Wykes questioned why enrolment centers have remained closed for months when so many other govt offices have been open.
“Airports are crazy,” she added, “and if you have Nexus, you can get through faster coming and going, whether at the border or the airport.”
“The government’s failure to anticipate this pent-up demand, which has been anticipated for two years, is quite aggravating.”
In an email, the CBSA stated that Canada and the United States are discussing when Canadian enrolment centers will reopen.
“While the amount of the backlog in 2019 is unknown, I can tell you that the backlog has greatly increased over pre-pandemic levels due to the enrolment centers closing in March 2020 for public health concerns,” spokesperson Rebecca Purdy said.
Meanwhile, the CBSA said that the Fast program for cross-border commercial truck drivers had a backlog of 11,018, according to the CBSA.
“Many cross-border fleets in Canada have had difficulties due to this issue. Although companies have learned to modify their operations as well as manage their available drivers to minimize these problems as much as practical, the reopening of the centers has become increasingly crucial,” said Marco Beghetto, a representative for the Canadian Trucking Alliance, in an email.
According to Jacques Roy, a professor of transportation management at HEC Montreal, the Nexus backlog is harming both business and leisure travelers. It also puts further strain on airports already dealing with security staffing shortages and long lines.
“I’m still perplexed why nothing was handled or processed at that time,” Roy said of the periodic office closures.
For new applicants or those looking to renew a soon-to-expire card, the CBSA said it continues to conduct risk assessments remotely within its 30-day timeline.
“The onus is then on the applicant to organize an interview at a Nexus/Fast EC (enrolment center) using web portal,” the agency added after both nations had pre-approved the application.
It hasn’t been said when Canadian enrolment centers will open their doors.
Nexus memberships are normally good for five years and must be renewed after. For both first-time applicants and long-time cardholders, the process includes a risk assessment as well as a screening interview, according to the CBSA.
According to agency estimates, Nexus membership fell by 170,814, or 9%, to 1.73 million registrants between 2020 and 2021.
The number of new applications increased by roughly a third to 262,125 between 2018 and 2019. They dropped to 172,125 in 2020 as well as 29,705 in 2021, respectively. Despite the closure of enrolment centers, the backlog of partially processed applications continued to expand.
Source: CTV News
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