With travel surging again, the CBP One app launched in 2020 is seeing a commensurate spike in real-world use and is poised to feature even more capabilities in the future.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched the CBP One mobile application on the Apple App and Google Play stores on Oct. 28, 2020, as a streamlined portal to some of the agency’s most utilized services.
“To balance our important safety and security mission with the facilitation of legitimate travel and trade that feed our nation’s economy, CBP is exploring ways that we can work with the public and our stakeholders to modernize and improve our processes,” Jody Hardin, acting executive director for Planning, Program Analysis and Evaluation, said at a media roundtable Wednesday.
The app rolled out with I-94 Entry for travelers to apply provisionally before arriving at a land border crossing, as well as an inspection appointment request feature for brokers, carriers, and forwarders flying into the country with biological and agriculture products.
“Using the CBP One I-94 feature to apply and pay for a provisional I-94 prior to arrival will save the foreign travelers time and streamline their processing at the land ports of entry,” Strategic Transformation Office Acting Director Tricia Kennedy said. “In some cases, this will eliminate the need for the travelers to be referred to a secondary area for processing. In all cases, it will facilitate data entry and eliminate fee collections at the POE.”
Because the app was rolled out when travel was still limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its use had also been limited. But “since resumption of travel in November, there have been over 100,000 provisional I-94s applied through the CBP One application,” Kennedy reported. She attributes that to marketing efforts intended to make sure travelers know about the features and “the convenience of applying through a handheld device even while at the POE.”
Through CBP One, foreign travelers can review their last 10 years of travel history on their smartphone and see a real-time calculation of how much time is left in their authorized length of stay on an active I-94.
“In addition, travelers arriving whether by land, by air, or by sea, if they are issued an automated I-94 during the admission process at the port of entry, they can use the I-94 features of CBP One to instantly access their proof of admission on their handheld device,” she said.
With the feature that allows air travelers to request an inspection and provide necessary documentation pertaining to the hand carry of permitted biological materials, live animals, or hunting trophies, travelers can also notify CBP of the need for the sanitization of their footwear if the traveler visited a farm or a ranch in a foreign country. “This particularly appeals to industry professionals or frequent travelers who are aware of this requirement in advance and seek ways to expedite their clearance upon arrival,” Kennedy noted.
The app allows live status updates of the inspection request and offers the ability to chat with an agency agricultural specialist if necessary.
“Most importantly, the inspection of these travelers will be expedited due to CBP’s ability to review the information and adjudicate any issues or concerns in advance,” she said.
CBP will soon begin testing a new capability for small land border bus companies to submit passengers’ biographic and document information in advance; currently this is done by commercial airlines, cruise ships, and some large bus companies.
By the end of this year, CBP plans to merge the CBP ROAM mobile application, which was launched in 2017 and allows pleasure boaters to report their U.S. entry to CBP, into the CBP One platform.
“CBP is also looking to implement the ability for pedestrians to submit advanced information on a voluntary basis prior to arriving on the land border in order to expedite their travel,” Kennedy said. “We will also allow foreign nationals who have an electronic I-94 issued upon arrival and want to provide a proof of exit through the CBP One application to ensure they have evidence that they did comply with their authorized length of stay.”
CBP One was utilized last year in partnership with international organizations and nongovernmental organizations to collect advanced information on migrants excepted from the CDC’s Title 42 order for humanitarian reasons.
“It’s the information that would have been collected at the port of entry when they were processed, but having that information submitted to us in advance allowed us to auto-populate some of our systems upon their arrival and expedite the amount of time it would take for CBP to process them,” Kennedy said, adding that it “reduced the amount of time they were in a congregate setting during the peak and ongoing pandemic, and reduced what we estimate is about 15 minutes per individual in processing time at the POE.”
“We are looking to see whether or not that is something that we could implement outside of the CDC Title 42 order restrictions,” she said. “But we’re still trying to figure out whether or not that’s something that would continue to reap the same benefits for both the individuals and for CBP.”