U.S. Canada NEXUS dispute delays business travel across borders

NEXUS, a widely used and enjoyed program to facilitate travel from Canada to the United States, has been suspended due to a long-running dispute between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Canadian authorities. NEXUS is an immigration program designed for travelers who frequently travel between the United States and Canada, including expedited transit at land, sea and air borders. In addition to offering the same benefits as Global Entry in terms of entry into the United States, but also a broader program involving other countries, the NEXUS card is cheaper and can be used for air and car travel between the two countries. Once admitted to NEXUS, applicants receive an ID card for entry into the United States and Canada at designated NEXUS air, land and sea ports of entry. The point is the entry into Canada part, it’s not part of Global Entry.

Benefits of NEXUS

Membership in the NEXUS program allows successful applicants to reduce their time at designated ports of entry by using dedicated processing lanes at land borders, NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada, Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States, and sea calls. The waiting time reporting center reports sea arrivals into the United States and Canada.

the substance of the dispute

However, around 13 NEXUS admissions centres in Canada have closed due to the controversy. The disagreement is over whether US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) agents should receive the same legal protections at Canada’s Nexus facility as they currently do at ports of entry such as Canadian airports and the Canada-US border. Canadian officials see no reason to provide additional protections in those offices, while Americans fail to see how they could get their work done otherwise.

NEXUS process

As far as such an application is concerned, the process includes completing a questionnaire to determine eligibility, paying fees, and attending an interview at the NEXUS office. To demonstrate NEXUS eligibility, applicants must provide documents such as a valid passport, valid driver’s license, and sometimes other identification.

Not surprisingly, if the applicant has a criminal record or has had immigration issues prior to applying, the application will be denied. The same is true if an official has reasonable grounds to suspect that the applicant may be involved in terrorism, espionage, war crimes, etc. or subversion.

Business Council Complaint

Recently, the Business Council of Canada expressed concerns about the continued closure of the Nexus Trusted Traveler program in a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen. Chief executive Goldy Hyder said it was “deeply disturbing” that the U.S. government has not yet reopened the Nexus Admissions Center.

Is it the gun controversy?

While news reports suggest the controversy is over whether US officials can possess guns in NEXUS offices, this is not the case. In fact, there is disagreement over extending immunity from prosecution — the US reportedly believes that its employees in the Nexus offices deserve the same level of protection as diplomats sued in Canada while working in Canada.

US Jurisdictions

Knowing how pre-clearance works at Canadian airports helps to get a clearer picture of what’s at stake in the NEXUS spat. The area outside the entrance to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance kiosk has been cordoned off, theoretically under U.S. jurisdiction. Legally, once a person deals with U.S. officials with pre-approval, a person is no longer in Canada, but in the United States. To do so, both countries must agree that USCBP officials receive the same immunity from prosecution for their work that U.S. diplomats receive in Canada.

Canada’s reluctance to expand immunity in this way is due to concerns or legal obstacles that appear to exist in extending U.S. legal jurisdiction to Canada. The problem is complex, it seems that there is more theory than practice, so it is not easy to solve. There seems to be an expectation that the dispute will still be resolved, perhaps even before President Biden is about to commit to a visit to Canada.

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