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Says next appointment not available until May 2023
Congressman Brian Higgins is pushing to end what his team called the “unreasonably long wait time” for new NEXUS cards commonly used by Western New Yorkers crossing into Canada. Higgins, who hears weekly from residents on this issue, said NEXUS card applicants are currently being made to wait nine months for an appointment at the Niagara Falls enrollment center.
In a letter to the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Higgins shared, “I write today to express concern and frustration regarding the delays in processing NEXUS applications and renewals, specifically scheduling interviews at enrollment centers, and to urge U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to address this backlog. Cross-border traffic remains diminished from the COVID-19 pandemic. To facilitate a return to pre-pandemic border crossing levels and economic activity, NEXUS applications and interviews must be processed and scheduled within a reasonable time frame.”
Trusted Traveler Programs, including the NEXUS (U.S.-Canada border), FAST (truck drivers crossing in/out of the U.S. through Canada or Mexico), Global Entry (entry to the U.S. from international destinations), and SENTRI (U.S.-Mexico border) programs, allow for expedited border crossings by prescreening travelers. New NEXUS applicants are required to participate in in-person interviews with agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as the Canada Border Services Agency.
Higgins’ team said, “Currently, the soonest available appointment at the Niagara Falls enrollment center is May 8, 2023, a nearly nine-month wait.”
CBP recently confirmed with Higgins’ office that Trusted Traveler Program applications are currently submitted at a rate of between 8,000 and 15,000 daily.
NEXUS processing was closed temporarily due to COVID-19, with enrollment centers reopening in April 2022.
Higgins’ team said, “The process here in New York was already backlogged prior to the pandemic due to President Trump’s unjust policy banning New Yorkers from participation in the program. In February of 2020, the Trump administration executed a directive excluding New York residents from trusted traveler programs, including NEXUS. Higgins fought the policy and, in July of 2020, the ban was lifted after the Trump administration was found to have made false statements in a court case related to the measure.”
Residents renewing their NEXUS card are currently being allowed a 60-month extension on the NEXUS card, as long as the individual submitted a renewal application before their membership is expired.
Higgins who serves as co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, has been fighting for both countries to return to prepandemic border management.
Higgins wrote, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced it will no longer recommend social distancing or quarantining for individuals exposed to COVID-19. This shift indicates an ability to return to pre-pandemic operations and border policy should follow suit … diminished operations are harmful to the United States economy as well as quality of life along our Northern Border. The timely processing of NEXUS applications and interviews will increase border activity as we work towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”