Federal officials are struggling to keep up with what the Department of Homeland Security has called an “unprecedented” number of applications for its Global Entry program.
Global Entry is an expedited screening program designed to help travelers clear US airport security checkpoints faster when returning from overseas. It costs $100 and includes TSA PreCheck, a program designed to save time during the initial TSA security check. (TSA PreCheck alone costs $85.) The process of obtaining Global Entry includes a background check and an in-person interview after preliminary approval. It’s the face-to-face interviews that are hard to get and slow the process down.
Strong demand is fueled by a strong rebound in travel and a backlog of interviews following a pause in pandemic planning (from the start of the pandemic until September 2020). Headlines about long wait times at airports around the world are likely to have travelers everywhere looking for ways to speed up their air travel experience.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, wait times for Global Entry interviews currently range between 6 and 18 months in most cases. In July alone, the agency received on average 11,500 daily applications. Part of the problem is that interviews, which are required to obtain Global Entry, were suspended at the start of the pandemic until September 2020, when in-person interviews resumed.. Two years later, enrollment centers are still facing staffing shortages, further compounding the backlog.
But there are possible solutions. Read on for tips and tricks to speed up the process if you’re waiting for Global Entry.
Participate in registration upon arrival
Travelers who have already completed their Global Entry application, paid the $100 fee, and been conditionally approved can participate in US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Registration upon arrival program, which eliminates the need for applicants to schedule an interview at an enrollment center to complete the application process. (It’s also useful for those who don’t live near an enrollment center.)
“When you land at an international terminal, follow the signs directing you to CBP officers who can perform your Global Entry interview during your admissibility inspection,” the CBP website states.
Once you land at a airport with Arrival registration, go to the arrival registration desk, which should be close to where incoming passengers are processed. Let the agent know that you have been conditionally approved for Global Entry and they will begin the interview. During the process, they will take a photo and fingerprints, as well as a list of all the countries you have visited in the last five years. They will also confirm your current address, where your physical card will be mailed. The complete interview should take less than 10 minutes.
To complete registration upon arrival, applicants must have their valid passport, documents proving residency (driver’s license, mortgage statement, utility bill, etc.) and permanent resident card (if applicable). applicable).
Sign up for appointment scanner
→ Sign up: Appointment Scanner, $29 for a month of alerts, appointmentcanner.com
While the next Global Entry appointment available online is often months or more in the future, there is a service that can help people (as AFAR Deputy Editor Tim Chester) who only need to complete the in-person interview portion of their application.
Called appointment scannerthe program continuously scans the Trusted Traveler site for canceled and rescheduled interviews for Global Entry, LINKWhere SENTRI programs. (The latter two also offer expedited customs clearance for pre-screened travelers – NEXUS is for travel specifically between the US and Canada, while SENTRI is for travelers traveling between the US and Mexico.)
The service will then send you text messages and e-mails notifying you of the opening of slots at the location of your choice (out of more than 100 registration centres). Then you can jump on the Trusted Traveler Programs site and try to grab that coveted date. The service costs $29, a one-time payment for a month of alerts. If you have not obtained an appointment within this time, you will have to re-register. The site says, “The average user receives between 10 and 25 dating alerts a day, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to book a convenient date in no time.”
You can request a refund within 30 days if you are unsuccessful and unsubscribe from alerts if successful.
Get TSA PreCheck instead
Because the line has gotten so long, DHS has started encouraging travelers who travel primarily domestically to forgo Global Entry in favor of TSA PreCheck.
“If you don’t travel internationally several times a year, we recommend applying for the TSA PreCheck program,” DHS said. on its website. “Most TSA PreCheck applicants can book an appointment within two weeks and, if approved, can receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) approximately 3-5 days after the appointment.”
The main difference between the programs is that PreCheck saves you time going through TSA security checks before you leave for the United States (and recently from Nassau, Bahamas), while Global Entry also works to expedite arrivals through customs after you return to the United States from abroad.
Tim Chester contributed to this report.