If there’s one thing frequent travelers dread a lot is the long, slow-moving U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) line when you enter the United States.
Throw in an 11-hour journey, a toddler, and his very hungry mother and you can just imagine the helpless husband just waiting to get everyone home.
Thankfully, there is a solution to speed up clearance — I’m talking a few minutes as opposed to hours, days?
Global Entry membership is a quick way to clear CBP without facing long lines — sometimes getting clearance before even physically re-entering the U.S. if you’re departing from pre-clearance locations like a few in Canada.
(The clearance at Toronto was so quick we were wondering why the officer let us go without a single question. In fact, he asked us to ‘please move ahead’ because we were still standing there waiting to be probed further.)
While the process of becoming a Global Entry member may seem cumbersome, it is most certainly worth it.
Here are 10 things that can help you get yours soon (ish).
- All Global Entry applications must be submitted online through the CBP website with a $100 nonrefundable application fee. Depending on which credit card you own, you may be eligible for fee reimbursement.
- Once you apply, it could take up to 6 months for non-U.S citizens in most cases to become conditionally approved. For U.S. citizens, it could get approved in a day.
- After you’ve received conditional approval, you’ll need to schedule and complete an in-person interview. Even though the CBP approved my application in May 2022, due to an application backlog I could not get an appointment for the in-person interview application process until December 2022.
- On the day of your interview, be sure to have the following ready:
a.) A printout of your letter of conditional approval
b.) Valid passport(s) or permanent resident card
c.) Evidence of residency (for example, a driver’s license with your current address, a mortgage statement, or a recent utility bill)
d.) Employment Verification letter (if applicable)
e.) I-797 for non-U.S. citizens (if applicable)
- The interview will last about 10 to 15 minutes. You can expect to be questioned about your application, and about why you want to join the Global Entry program. I was also asked to list the countries I had visited recently, and whether I had traveled to each for business or leisure.
- The final step is to submit your fingerprints and get your photo taken. And you’re good to go.
- When you return to the U.S. after an international trip, you are eligible for enrollment on arrival. You will have to head to a separate line at immigration where a CBP agent will complete your interview.
- Global Entry service is available to more than just U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Currently, citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Bahrain, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the U.K. can apply.
- You will be eligible for TSA PreCheck almost all of the time if you have Global Entry. Make sure the name matches the one on your ticket and don’t forget to add the membership number in the KTN field when you purchase your ticket.
- Global Entry is valid for 5 years. But, the renewal process has been experiencing massive delays. Thankfully, the CBP has added two additional years to make up for this delay. However, you must submit your renewal application before it expires to get this grace period.
- Families need to enroll their children also in the program. This means you’ll have to pay the $100 enrollment fee for each child. You’ll also have to schedule and attend an interview with your minor.
Global Entry can help you avoid long wait times when you return from an international trip. Although it costs $100 and requires an in-person interview, signing up for Global Entry might help you save a lot of time if you’re a frequent international traveler.
Additionally, since you are eligible for a TSA PreCheck, your security clearance also speeds up at TSA checkpoints.