U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) at the Laredo Port of Entry advised this week that CBP has already begun implementation of multiple facilitation measures in anticipation of the forthcoming Christmas/New Year’s holiday travel season to assist the traveling public with their experience while crossing one of the busiest land border ports in the country.
“In the days and weeks preceding Christmas and New Years’ holidays, CBP officers at Laredo Port of Entry experience significant increases in vehicular traffic and tourist permit traffic,” said Port Director Albert Flores, Laredo Port of Entry. “Our proactive facilitation measures, including encouragement of filing I-94 applications online, offsite I-94 processing, expanded SENTRI-only hours and use of designated lanes will help to increase efficiency and mitigate wait times these during peak travel periods.”
The Laredo Port of Entry strongly encourages travelers to apply for their tourist permits online via http://i94.cbp.dhs.gov. Travelers receive a provisional I-94 after submitting their application and payment online. To finalize the I-94 process, travelers must present themselves at a port of entry within seven days of their application to be interviewed by a CBP officer, submit biometric fingerscans and a photo is taken. The Laredo Port of Entry will extend front of the line privileges to travelers who submit their I-94 applications electronically and present their provisional I-94 permit receipt.
CBP, in collaboration with the Outlet Shoppes at Laredo has implemented a Mobile Enrollment Center for issuance of I-94 tourist permits. The Mobile Enrollment Center will be available throughout the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season. The mobile enrollment center is located in the second floor of the Outlet Shoppes at Laredo, near the Nike Store.
In close coordination with the Government of Mexico and the City of Laredo, the designated lane, which is designed for local cross border traffic that does not require tourist permits or other benefits, began operating before Thanksgiving and will continue on an as-needed basis through the Día de los Reyes Magos holiday of Jan. 6. CBP encourages daily border crossers to use these designated lanes, which run the full length of the bridge and fan out to multiple primary inspection booths located in the Easternmost lanes of the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge. CBP can channel this traffic through additional primary lanes within the former import lot below on an as-needed basis as well.
As an added service to SENTRI participants, CBP also advised that Gateway to the Americas Bridge since Dec. 9 will process SENTRI-only vehicular traffic from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
CBP also encourages travelers to obtain and utilize radio-frequency identification technology (RFID)-equipped travel documents such as U.S. passport cards and the newer versions (i.e. since 2011) of the border crossing card and resident alien card so that they can utilize Ready Lanes. Processing in Ready Lanes is 20 percent faster than normal lanes. Those who have renewed their entry documents within the last 24 months already have RFID-enabled documents and may not know it. CBP encourages travelers to obtain RFID entry documents to use Ready Lanes and enroll in trusted traveler programs.
Members of the traveling public can monitor Border Wait Times via this link or also obtain the BWT app on their smartphone via Apple App Store and Google Play (CBP BWT) so that they can observe the wait times and make an informed decision on which bridge to use. These wait times are updated on an hourly basis. CBP reminds the public that they may utilize the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge as an alternate route to avoid heavy traffic.
Also to avoid any potential delays or fines due to travelers bringing prohibited/restricted agricultural items, CBP encourages travelers to declare all agricultural items to a CBP officer upon arrival and before making their journey to review the prohibited and restricted items list and the Know Before You Go guide and video at the following link.