Appealing Loss of NEXUS Cards and NEXUS Application Rejections

Anyone who travels frequently understands the benefits of NEXUS membership.  I have been a member since August 2012 and it is only a slight exaggeration to say that I remember a life before NEXUS.

At airports, NEXUS members avoid long line-ups and save time using automated self-serve kiosks at eight designated Canadian international airports.  The wait-times are much less than they are for non-NEXUS passengers.  As well, NEXUS members are expedited through Canadian Air Transport Security Authority airport security screening lanes.  This is the case even on domestic flights.

Those crossing the US-Canada border by land enjoy a quick and simplified entry process using dedicated lanes.  Wait-times are generally a fraction of what they are for non-NEXUS members.   It is not uncommon for the NEXUS lane(s) to be empty while the non-NEXUS lanes have wait-times exceeding one hour.

If you’ve never heard of NEXUS, you should read more about it on the CBSA website here.

Considering all the benefits which membership in NEXUS provides, it is understandable why people whose NEXUS membership applications are rejected often seek recourse, as do people who lose their NEXUS.

First Level Recourse Statistics

In 2011-12 (excluding Q4), there were 614 First Level Recourse appeals of NEXUS membership rejections.  The cases were broken down as follows:

  • Customs – 253
  • Criminal – 158
  • Immigration – 85
  • Program Violations – 27
  • Other – 91

Of the 614 cases, 118 were overturned.  This 19% success rate represented a slight decline from the 2011 success rate of 22%.

Second Level Recourse Statistics

In 2011-12 (excluding Q4), there were 44 Second Level Recourse appeals of NEXUS membership rejections.  The cases were broken down as follows:

  • Customs – 17
  • Criminal – 11
  • Immigration – 6
  • Program Violations – 6
  • Other – 4

Of the 44 cases, 14 were overturned.  This 31% success rate represented a slight decline from the 2011 success rate of 38%.

Why Are Overturns Successful? 

There are several reasons why an initial decision by an officer to either reject an applicant’s membership in NEXUS or an officer’s decision to revoke an individual’s NEXUS card might be overturned.  These include:

  • Further analysis determining that there was no immigration violation.  For example, under the NEXUS Strict Standard Policy, immigration violations must be recorded in the FOSS database for an individual to be denied membership in NEXUS; 
  • Seizure appealed successfully, therefore no customs violation (for this reason NEXUS appeals often occur concurrently with Customs Act violation appeals);
  • Member inadvertently used NEXUS lane with a non-member passenger (this is very fact-driven”);
  • Offence did not equate to a criminal conviction.  For example, under the NEXUS Strict Standard Policy, a crime which is ten-years old prosecuted summarily does not necessarily result in a NEXUS violation;
  • Client/member was acquitted of crime; and
  • Applicant was listed as an associate on seizure, not principal.

In one of my successful cases, an individual was denied membership in NEXUS because an officer (reasonably) determined based on incomplete information in the National Crime Information Center that my client had been convicted of an offence when in fact he had been dismissed.  We were able to locate the necessary documents to have the refusal overturned.

In reflecting on that case, I should note that the CBSA officers who work in the NEXUS unit are incredibly helpful.  I have spoken with Security Officers on numerous occasions, and they are always proactive and informative.


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