NEXUS Rules Could Affect Your Cross-Border Plans

If you travel a lot between Canada and the United States, you may already have seen people zipping through the rapid NEXUS lines while you sit in bumper to bumper traffic and wait…and wait…and wait. But before you apply to be one of the lucky NEXUS people who seem to just bop into the US whenever they choose, without having to talk to a customs agent, you should know that if you have a criminal record, or have ever been fingerprinted, your application will be denied – and applying could also flag you as inadmissible to the United States.

All About NEXUS

In case you haven’t heard of NEXUS, it was introduced several years ago to keep cross-border traffic flowing by designating an automated system for ‘low-risk’ travellers to cross into and out of the United States, thus allowing border protection officials to focus their attention on travellers who might be more high-risk. Here are some fun facts about the NEXUS program:

  • There is a $50 application fee and the pass is good for 5 years
  • NEXUS works on microchip technology and relies on a visual identification by border officials or an iris (eye) scan if travelling by air
  • There is no limit on travel back and forth across the border
  • Most NEXUS members are Canadian; Canadians can apply directly on the Canada Border Services Agency website
  • NEXUS lanes are available at more than 20 land points of entry
  • You must be a citizen or a permanent resident of the US or Canada to apply
  • Both Canadian and US officials will assess your application to determine if you qualify

This last point is problematic for people who have been in trouble with the law. And if you do have a record, forget about being a passenger: every single person in a vehicle must be a card-carrying member of NEXUS, even children.

CBSA and CBP don’t make it easy for people with criminal records to qualify for NEXUS

The question is…who does the Canada Border Services Agency (Canada) and Customs & Border Protection (USA) consider to be a ‘Trusted Traveller’? Eligibility is kept vague. We do know that you’re supposed to be of ‘good character’, with no serious offenses such as indictable offenses, cross-border smuggling, or repeat offenses. Unfortunately, as with regular cross-border entry, a lot seems to be at the discretion of these two agencies. For example, CBP agents are known to overlook a single DUI, however, if you have a summary offense, you could technically be forced to wait up to a decade to apply for NEXUS – and even then, you may still need an official Canadian pardon and/or a US Entry Waiver in order to obtain a NEXUS card.

Why it matters

What you do in the months and years leading up to obtaining your NEXUS card, matters. If you cross the border frequently without hassles, you could continue your usual pattern and hope for the best. However, we recommend that you apply for a US entry waiver immediately, even if you don’t yet qualify for one. The sooner you get the process started, the sooner you should have your waiver in hand; you will be glad to have it the one day you run afoul of a strict border agent. Failing to obtain a waiver could result in your being labeled ‘inadmissible’ to the US if you keep trying to cross after you have been advised not to by a border official because of an outstanding criminal record. And if you’re declared inadmissible, you certainly will not be able to get a NEXUS card!

Click here to find out more about the US Entry Waiver, how it works, and the benefits of having one… so you’ll be ready for NEXUS the next time.

Call TOLL FREE 1-888-890-1321

or fill out the online inquiry below and have a qualified agent help you see if you are eligible to clear your criminal record with a Pardon, or gain access to the United States with an Entry Waiver.

What are you looking for?