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What is the NEXUS Program?

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    As international travel continues to regain its pre-pandemic popularity, security has not lost any importance when travelers are entering a country. Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) can make that process a bit easier, and the TTP called NEXUS was developed as a collaborative effort between the United States and Canada.

    This article explores the various aspects of the NEXUS program, including its benefits, eligibility criteria and application process.

    What is NEXUS?

    Canadian and United States agencies jointly offer NEXUS to give travelers a chance at entering Canada and United States more efficiently. The TTP provides pre-approved, low-risk travelers expedited processing at designated ports of entry, fostering seamless travel while maintaining strict border security measures. To enroll, individuals must apply, pay a nonrefundable fee and undergo a careful vetting process.

    How does NEXUS work?

    NEXUS allows members to use reserved processing lanes at various U.S. and Canadian ports of entry. After using the lanes, NEXUS members can access Global Entry or NEXUS kiosks, whichever is available at the port of entry. When entering the United States or Canada by sea, NEXUS members may receive expedited processing by calling a reporting line ahead of time. NEXUS members typically receive a physical card to be used at designated processing lanes.

    Who is eligible for NEXUS?

    NEXUS is open to individuals who meet specific criteria and pass a comprehensive background check. Eligibility extends to citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canada. In addition, Mexican nationals who are members of Mexico's TTP, Viajero Confiable, may apply for NEXUS.

    NEXUS enrollment involves rigorous background checks, in-person interviews, and biometric data collection. This selective approach designates approved members as low-risk travelers and offering them the possibility of expedited border crossing.

    Here are some important points about NEXUS eligibility:

    • Citizenship or permanent residency: Applicants must be either a citizen of the United States or Canada or hold permanent residency status in either country; or be a Mexican national who is a member of Viajero Confiable.
    • Criminal record: Individuals with a criminal record or pending criminal charges may not be eligible for the NEXUS program. This includes convictions for serious offenses such as terrorism and espionage.
    • Immigration history: Applicants must have complied with immigration laws and regulations of both the United States and Canada. Individuals with past immigration violations or unresolved immigration issues may be ineligible for NEXUS.
    • Admissibility: Applicants must be admissible to both the United States and Canada. This means they should not have been denied entry or removed from either country in the past.
    • Age Requirement: There is no specific age requirement to apply for NEXUS, but minors must have a a parent's or legal guardian's consent to participate in the program.

    It's important to note that meeting the NEXUS program eligibility criteria does not guarantee approval. Each application undergoes a thorough review, including a personal interview with customs and immigration officers.

    What are the benefits of the NEXUS program?

    NEXUS offers a wide range of benefits to its members, promoting hassle-free travel between the United States and Canada. One of the primary advantages is expedited processing at designated NEXUS lanes, allowing members to bypass regular immigration and customs queues. This streamlining can significantly reduce wait times at border crossings and airports.

    Dedicated processing lanes

    NEXUS members receive physical cards with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. After activating your card, you can use it when entering the United States and Canada at select entry ports. Just hold up your membership card at the card reader when passing through a dedicated NEXUS lane.

    Automated kiosks

    Self-service kiosks are available to NEXUS members in various U.S. and Canadian airports. The kiosks may be labeled differently depending on exactly where you are: You'd use NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada and Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States. Being able to access these designated kiosks tends to reduce wait times.

    Using NEXUS when entering Canada

    At least one pedestrian lane is designated for NEXUS members to use at participating border crossing points. When a vehicle lane is available, it can only be used if every passenger in the vehicle has a NEXUS card. A physical NEXUS card and visual inspection by a border officer will be required.

    Using NEXUS when entering the U.S.

    Dedicated NEXUS lanes are available in the United States at several land border crossings. To use the lane, your NEXUS card will be required. If you're a member, but you're traveling with nonmembers, you'll have to use the regular processing lanes. The process is similar at participating international airports in the United States, but here, NEXUS members can use Global Entry kiosks.

    Using NEXUS at marine crossings

    Processing at all marine crossings between the United States and Canada can be faster for NEXUS members. When arriving in the United States or Canada this way, report to a marine telephone reporting center at least 30 minutes ahead of time. Be prepared to provide the appropriate declarations and identifying information for every NEXUS member.

    How much does a NEXUS card cost?

    As of May 2023, the application fee for NEXUS is $50, and membership lasts five years. The NEXUS fee is still nonrefundable, even if your application is declined. Credit cards are accepted, and some actually offer a benefit that reimburses the NEXUS application fee — Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for example. If you use your card to pay the NEXUS application fee, you could be eligible for a statement credit up to $100 every four years.

    Should I enroll in the NEXUS program?

    The NEXUS program has created efficiency for international travel since its creation. By enabling members to use dedicated lanes and streamlined screening processes, the program expedites the flow of travelers while maintaining stringent security measures. This not only improves the overall travel experience for NEXUS members but also reduces congestion and enhances the capacity of border facilities.

    If the benefits appeal to you and align with your travel habits, NEXUS membership may enhance your travel experiences. To recap, members can access automated, self-service Global Entry airport kiosks, as well as designated NEXUS lanes to expedite travel time.

    You might also want to consider how the application process works. Will any parts of the process be challenging or inconvenient for you to complete? Also consider that, as of May 2023, the average processing time for a NEXUS application is 12 to 14 months.

    How to apply for NEXUS

    The application process begins with completing an online application and paying a nonrefundable fee. The fee may be nonrefundable, but several travel credit cards may reimburse it. Children under 18 need a parent or legal guardian's consent to participate in NEXUS.

    After submitting the initial application, applicants schedule an in-person interview at a NEXUS enrollment center, which are located in the United States and Canada. During the interview, applicants undergo biometric fingerprinting and iris scanning, providing an additional layer of security. The interview also allows officers to assess an applicant's credibility and eligibility for the program.

    In summary

    The NEXUS program is open to citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canada who pass comprehensive background checks. Applicants must undergo an extensive vetting process. It involves a thorough review of criminal records, immigration history and an interview with customs and immigration officers. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate their low-risk status and willingness to comply with program requirements.

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