CBP mobile app
A migrant uses the Spanish version of the CBP mobile app. Image from Reuters video

U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday announced changes to the CBP One app to expand the number of appointments available and allow for more time to complete requests.

The new process also will prioritize those who have been waiting the longest, according to the agency, which has faced increasing criticism about the performance of the app as the U.S. contends with managing the tide of migrants currently waiting at the border.

Other critics have expressed concerns that mandatory use of the app violates the rights of asylum seekers.

Federal officials argue, however, that scheduling an appointment in CBP One “provides a safe, orderly and humane process for non-citizens to access ports of entry rather than attempting to enter the U.S. irregularly.”

The app, the agency said in a news release, will transition to a new appointment scheduling system Wednesday that addresses previous volume issues. Appointments for Calexico and San Ysidro and other entry points will be available for 23 hours daily instead of at one designated time, in hopes of building in more flexibility and access to the system.

Those who use the app will receive notification to confirm their appointments after submitting their request. CBP also will increase the number of appointments available to approximately 1,000 each day.

The process will have two steps, so requestors have “ample time to make requests and confirm appointments at their convenience” over the course of a day. Users will be allowed to request appointments at any point during a full 23-hour period each day and, if they secure one, will have another 23-hour period to confirm it.

CBP also will add additional appointments, totaling up to approximately 1,000 each day starting May 12, and continually evaluate expanding the number of available appointments “as operations and efficiencies allow.”

Early users will be prioritized by allocating a percentage of daily available appointments to the earliest registered app profiles.

CBP officials also argue that changes will provide users with limited connectivity the same opportunity to schedule appointments at Southwest Border ports of entry as those with better internet access.

They called the app “a key part of the Department of Homeland Security’s multi-pronged strategy to address migrant flows at the southwest border. By using CBP One for these appointments, we have increased our capacity to process non-citizens at ports of entry, a critical part of our commitment to safe, orderly, and humane migration processes.”

Non-citizens must still be physically located within central or northern Mexico to both request and schedule an appointment via CBP One.

In addition to the San Diego and Imperial County ports of entry, appointments are being offered at six others – Brownsville, Paso Del Norte in El Paso, Eagle Pass, Hidalgo, and Laredo in Texas and Nogales in Arizona.