Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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You’ve got upcoming international travel and tried to sign up for or renew your Global Entry membership before it expires, but it’s been challenging to get an appointment.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has alerted travelers on its website that all of its Trusted Traveler Programs — Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST — are experiencing “application processing delays,” leading to low interview availability. The agency says applications can take between 6 to 18 months to complete, which can be a serious problem if you have international travel coming up.
But with air travel surpassing pre-pandemic figures, it’s no surprise that wait times at customs and immigration to re-enter the U.S. have been lengthy. In some of the country’s biggest airports, such as New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), it’s not unheard of to wait for a whopping 45 to 60 minutes for your turn at an immigration kiosk.
To combat the long lines, some savvy travelers have invested in a Trusted Traveler Program membership to get through long lines faster.
Today, we’re focusing on Global Entry, as actually securing an appointment to finish your application has proven to be pretty complicated as of late. Here’s what you need to know about signing up or renewing your Global Entry membership right now.
What Is Global Entry?
The U.S. government created the Global Entry program back in 2008 to give preapproved clearance to low-risk travelers entering the U.S.
Currently, this program is 1 of the 5 available Trusted Traveler Programs. All programs except TSA PreCheck — which the Transportation Security Administration administers — are governed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection unit (CBP).
Global Entry first originated as INSPASS, or INS Passenger Accelerated Service System, in the 1990s. After the CBP merged with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), it created the current Global Entry program.
Initially, the program was only offered at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) Terminal 4 and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).
Today, Global Entry kiosks are found at 61 U.S. international airports and 13 preclearance facilities in Aruba, the Bahamas, Canada, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates. More than 8 million people are currently enrolled in Global Entry, including citizens from the 13 partner countries. An additional 3.5 million people are expected to apply for the program this fiscal year.
To minimize waiting at customs, member information is stored in a database. When members enter the country through a participating airport, they scan their machine-readable passports and fingerprints at a kiosk, complete a customs declaration form, and proceed straight to the baggage claim area.
Remote Interview Pilot for Trusted Traveler Program Renewals
To finish your application, you must complete an interview with a CBP officer. Previously, interviews could only be done in person, but one of the newest ways to complete your Trusted Traveler Program interview is by remote video.
To be eligible for the remote interview pilot, you must:
- Be conditionally approved for a TTP renewal
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a photo on file with CBP that was taken within the past 10 years and after you were 14 years of age
- Have previously submitted fingerprints to CBP
Note that CBP says travelers renewing NEXUS, FAST, and SENTRI memberships will be integrated into the pilot through a “phased approach.”
Also, first-time Trusted Traveler Program members cannot participate in the remote interview just yet.
If you meet all of the above requirements, read below to learn how to register for a remote interview from the comfort of your home!
Remote Interview Step-by-Step Guide
Ready to schedule your remote interview? First, you’ll need to log in to your Trusted Traveler Program dashboard. You’ll need your email address and password handy to do this.
If it’s less than a year before your Global Entry membership expires, you’ll see a box reminding you to complete your renewal to avoid an interruption in service.
Note that you cannot renew your membership until 1 year before expiration. As you can see in the screenshot below, my membership expires on February 20, 2023, but was not able to be renewed until February 20, 2022.
After clicking the Renew Membership button, you will be asked a series of questions, such as whether you’re a U.S. citizen (if you have dual citizenship, you must check the U.S. citizen box), then select the program you wish to renew. You’ll then be asked whether you plan to fly internationally within the next 6 months.
Next, you’ll be taken to another page to acknowledge that you’ll have to undergo a background check for renewal. Note that a conviction of any criminal offense or pending criminal charges, including outstanding warrants, will disqualify you from membership.
You will then be taken to a page to renew your Global Entry membership. You will review your information on the Final Review page, update your old data, and add any missing information. On this page, you will fill out or update:
- Personal info, such as your name, date of birth, eye color, and height; this information should already be on file from your initial application, so you likely won’t need to make any changes here
- Documents, such as your passport information
- Driver’s license if your driver’s license expired or if you changed states
- Vehicle info
- Address info: your residential history cannot have any gaps, so you’ll need to list all of the places you’ve lived
- Employment info: like your residential history, your employment history also cannot have any gaps
- Travel history, which includes listing every country you’ve traveled to in the past 5 years
- Additional info, such as whether you’ve been convicted of a crime or if you’ve been found in violation of customs or immigration laws
After double-checking that all of your information is up-to-date and correct, you’ll then be taken to a portal to enter your payment information (we’ll share more on which credit card to use for Global Entry membership a little later).
Hot Tip: Make sure all of your information is correct, as you cannot make changes to an application once it’s submitted. If there are errors in your application, a CBP officer at the enrollment center will need to change your application for you.
You’ll need to visit the TTP website for application status updates, as notification of when you can schedule an interview appointment (if one is required) will only be posted there.
After making your payment, you will then need to wait for conditional approval to schedule and attend an in-person or remote virtual interview.
To schedule a remote interview, you’ll need to log into the TTP dashboard and click on the Scheduling Your Remote Interview link.
CBP uses Zoom for the remote interviews. You can use a computer, tablet, or smartphone as long as it has a working microphone and camera. However, your device must be capable of running Zoom, so make sure whatever device you plan to use can run the latest version of the app.
Make sure to allot roughly 30 minutes for the process. Applicants can wait in a virtual waiting room, available through your TTP dashboard or the CBP One app, for 15 minutes, and then the actual interview should take no longer than 15 minutes.
For the actual virtual interview, you will need:
- A valid passport
- Documents showing proof of residency, such as your driver’s license, mortgage statement, rental payment statement, or utility bill that shows your current residence
- A permanent resident card (if applicable)
As you need many of these documents during the renewal process, it shouldn’t be too difficult to meet the requirements for the actual interview.
Enrollment on Arrival
If you’re a current Global Entry member or first-time Global Entry applicant and your application has been conditionally approved, you can do Enrollment on Arrival. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to score an interview right now, given the long wait times, as no appointment is needed.
Like all other interviews, you will need to have some essential documents handy such as your valid passport, proof of residency, and a permanent resident card (if applicable).
Note that several airports do not offer enrollment centers, so make sure to check whether your preferred airport participates before arriving. These include airports such as Indianapolis International Airport (IND) and Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) and several international airports including Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) and Bermuda International Airport (BDA).
You can take a look at the airports that do participate in Enrollment on Arrival.
CBP is still doing in-person interviews for conditionally approved first-time TTP members and those undergoing renewals.
However, CBP is facing serious delays with processing applications, and appointments at some facilities are booked completely through the summer of 2023.
After submitting your application, you will be contacted to schedule an interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers across the country. Note that not all enrollment centers are located at airports; for instance, the center in Washington, D.C., is in a federal office building.
To schedule an appointment for your Global Entry application, you can use CBP’s TTP scheduling tool, which lists all Global Entry enrollment facilities in the U.S. and U.S. territories. I recommend checking this link daily as availability can pop up and disappear in an instant. Using the filter from the scheduling tool, you can filter to find a day with your preferred number of appointments. If you’re in a rush, you can sort by the earliest available facility, but note that it may be far away from your home airport or enrollment facility. Keep in mind that if you’re scheduling appointments for several people, like family members, each person will need their own appointment time (and you will have to log into each account separately to book).
That said, it may be worth taking a day trip to the next state over or even hopping on a cheap flight to complete your enrollment. For instance, the next Global Entry appointment at the Middleburg Heights (Cleveland U.S. Customs and Border Protection) facility is in January 2023 — 4 months from now. But just 1 state away — a 3-hour drive or an hour-long flight — Detroit (Detroit Metro Airport Global Entry) has slots open as early as October.
Hot Tip: A third-party paid service, Appointment Scanner, sends you alerts when there are last-minute interview cancellations. You can choose from over 100 enrollment centers, set a date limit, and customize your notification preferences.
How To Sign Up for Global Entry Right Now
To apply for Global Entry for the first time, you’ll need to complete an application through the TTP website. You will need to complete the following steps:
- Create a Login.gov account
- Complete the application in the TTP system and pay the non-refundable $100 fee
- Schedule your security interview (once conditionally approved) at an enrollment center
- Bring your passport (or permanent resident card) and 1 other form of ID to the in-person interview along with a printout of your TTP application conditional approval letter
If you already have Global Entry, you’ll need to create an account in the new system to keep your information updated, renew your membership, reapply when your membership expires, and more.
You will need your current basic contact information for first-time and renewal applications. You’ll also be asked for prior addresses and job history, which may be difficult if you haven’t kept track of the places you’ve worked or if you move often.
How Much Does Global Entry Cost?
To sign up for Global Entry, you must pay a $100 one-time fee, which is required with your application and must be paid at the time of application submission through the Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) system. You can pay by credit card or by electronic bank transfer. If you’re rejected from the program for any reason, you will not get your $100 back.
Many of the most popular premium travel rewards credit cards offer credits to offset the cost of a Global Entry membership. You can get your fee paid for by having cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® in your wallet. While all of these cards come with hefty annual fees, they make up for it in perks such as lounge access, elite status, and travel credits. In this case, the 3 cards mentioned above offer a $100 statement credit for a Global Entry membership once every 4 years.
If you already have Global Entry, your authorized users can also utilize your account’s 1 Global Entry credit when paying with your Amex Platinum card, Chase Sapphire Reserve card, or Capital One Venture X card, or you can pay for the application for a family member or friend.
And remember, along with Global Entry approval, members get complimentary access to the TSA PreCheck Trusted Traveler Program, which normally costs $78.
Alternatives to Global Entry
Not everyone will be approved for Global Entry or want to pay the $100 fee. But there are other ways to beat long wait times at immigration and customs lines. One way to expedite your entry into the U.S. is with the Mobile Passport program.
Mobile Passport is a program that was launched in 2014 to help combat long wait times at immigration. Today, more than 4 million travelers have used the program.
MPC is a free program available to U.S. citizens and Canadian B1/B2 visitors. The app allows travelers to submit their passport and travel information using a cell phone. It enables you to store your data for future international travel. You can download the app through the Google Play or Apple App stores. Once downloaded, you must create a profile with your passport information, name, gender, date of birth, and country of citizenship.
After landing in the U.S. or arriving at an eligible U.S. preclearance airport, you will select your airport or seaport and terminal, take a self-photo, answer a series of CBP inspection-related questions, and then receive an electronic receipt with a QR code. You will then bring your physical passport and mobile device with your digital QR-coded receipt to a CBP officer.
Up to 12 profiles can be created, so Mobile Passport is perfect for family members. CBP says that all authorized Mobile Passport apps allow a single household to submit 1 transaction, including answers to CBP inspection questions.
Mobile Passport is available at 31 U.S. international airports, 3 Canadian preclearance locations, and 4 seaports of entry — check out our detailed Mobile Passport guide for a map and list of all of the locations. Keep in mind that MPC is only available these select airports, so it won’t work if you’re not at an eligible port of entry.
CBP said in a bulletin posted on its website that travelers who don’t travel multiple times per year internationally should instead apply for the TSA PreCheck program. This notice appears to be an effort to stave off the number of travelers applying for Global Entry, a program for travelers arriving back to the U.S. from abroad.
The agency says TSA PreCheck applicants can schedule an appointment in less than 2 weeks. If approved, you can receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) about 3 to 5 days after your appointment.
TSA PreCheck, which was started in October 2011, allows TSA to expedite the security screening process for low-risk travelers.
Like Global Entry, your membership in TSA PreCheck lasts for 5 years. You will not receive a refund if you’re rejected from the program. If you choose to renew your application online, it will cost $70 and is still valid for the same 5-year timeframe. If you decide to renew in person, the fee remains $78.
Several credit cards, including the Amex Platinum card and Chase Sapphire Reserve card, will reimburse the fee regardless of whether you’re approved or not, so make sure to pay with a card that covers the charge.
To apply, you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or a lawful permanent resident and pass a background check. And, similar to Global Entry, having a criminal charge or conviction is grounds for disqualification.
Many of the world’s airlines and virtually every major U.S. carrier participate in the program.
A TSA PreCheck membership comes with several perks, like leaving your shoes, jackets, belts, and other light outerwear on. Additional benefits include keeping laptops and small liquids in your bag.
Note that TSA PreCheck is not Global Entry. It’s an entirely separate program operated by TSA. If you apply for TSA PreCheck and then later decide you want a Global Entry membership, you will need to apply (and pay) for it separately.
Getting a Global Entry interview to renew your membership has been a challenge as of late. If you have upcoming travel plans, you may want to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later, and if you’re having trouble finding an enrollment center, consider doing a virtual interview. We hope this helps you get a Global Entry appointment quicker and smoother than ever!
The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
Featured Image Credit: Josh Denmark via U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Frequently Asked Questions
Global Entry is a program gives preapproved clearance to low-risk travelers entering the U.S. Global Entry kiosks are found at 61 U.S. international airports and 13 preclearance facilities across the globe.
Yes, you may interview with CBP for your Global Entry application as long as you are renewing your membership and not applying for the first time. The remote interviews take place over Zoom.
You will need a valid passport or permanent resident card (if applicable), plus documents establishing proof of residency, such as a driver’s license, mortgage statement, rental payment statement, or utility bill that shows your current address.
A Global Entry application costs $100, which is non-refundable even if you’re rejected from the program. Your membership is good for 5 years.
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