By Renee King Founding EditorA View To A Thrill
Nothing makes the heart sink faster than seeing long lines at airports,especially when those long lines resemble a cesspool of copper headedsnakes and are just as pleasant. You know the drill….whether it’s waitingto go through the tiring TSA lines or through passportcontrol/immigration, we have been conditioned to the art of the wait.In a rare show of common sense, the government has developed a programto alleviate this inhuman form of torture. Originally created to targetfrequent international travelers, the U.S. Global Entry program has been avirtual god-send for travelers who want a fast and secure way of skippingthe lines altogether when re-entering the United States.
What is it exactly? When coming back to the USA after visiting a foreign country, you will haveto go through Customs. Usually the lines are long because at any given timethere are many flights re-entering the USA at the same time that your flightarrives.This compounds the number of people who have to go through customs andusually end up creating interminable lines as a result. The Global Entryprogram is a Trusted Traveler pre-screening program that allows you to go toa computer kiosk instead of a Customs officer when you are returning home.This will significantly expedite your re-entry into the country because therewill be virtually no wait since you can just walk up to the kiosk, scan yourpassport, let the camera scan your face and then your fingers to identify youbiometrically
A screenshot of your flight details will pop up and you will need to verifywhether or not you have something to declare. If you are cleared through, a pieceof paper will print out that you will need to hand over to the customs officer onyour way out to baggage claim or ground transportation. Time elapse? Less thanthree minutes.
Is it really that easy? Surely, I can still be searched at this stage of the game. That is correct. You know that little piece of paper that I just mentioned?If it has an X on it, you will have to see a customs official. You do not haveto stand in line, just go straight to the nearest officer and they willdetermine why you were flagged.It could be something very simple like not declaring something that youhave brought back from your travels. That officer will determine if youneed to go through a secondary and more hands on screening.
Who’s eligible to sign up for this program? Global Entry is open to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, Dutchcitizens, South Korean citizens and Mexican nationals.Canadian citizens and residents may enjoy Global Entry benefits throughmembership in the NEXUS program.Applicants must be over 18 or if under the age of 18, must have parentalor legal guardian’s consent.
How do I apply? All applications must be submitted online. During the application process, you will be assessed a $100.00non-refundable application fee. Caution: be sure to follow all instructions to the letter. Someone inputtedhis birthday incorrectly, so his application was denied. He could reapply, but would have to pay the feeagain.Next, you will have to submit to an in-person interview. After your application has been reviewed, youwill receive a notification in your G.E. account that you need to schedule an interview at one of theirGlobal Entry Enrollment Centers. All of the centers are located close to or within airports. If they arelocated inside the airport, you will never have to worry about going through TSA to get there. The officesare located outside the security area.The actual interview consists of pointed questions (i.e. to ascertain any criminal history) and watching ashort video on how to use the kiosk or they will simply demonstrate how while you are there. Theinterviewer (A U.S. Customs Officer) will take your picture and scan your fingerprints. Both biometricmeasures must match when you go to the computer kiosk when re-entering the country. All applicantsmust bring with them a machine readable passport or a U.S. permanent residency card. Typically, youwill be done in less than 15 minutes.
Are there any conditions that may disqualify me? According to the Global Entry site, here is their list of reasons for ineligibility fortheir program:Applicants may not qualify for participation in the Global Entry program if they:• Provide false or incomplete information on the application;• Have been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants;• Have been found in violation of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws in any country;• Are subjects of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency;• Are inadmissible to the United States under immigration regulation, including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation;• Cannot satisfy the Customs and Border Protection department (CBP) of their low- risk status (e.g. CBP has intelligence that indicates that the applicant is not low risk; CBP cannot determine an applicant’s criminal, residence or employment history).
When does my membership expire?Your $100.00 non-refundable fee gives you five years’ access to theGlobal Entry program.
Are there any additional benefits that I should know about? U.S. citizens who are members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Entry, NEXUS,and SENTRI Trusted Traveler programs are eligible to participate in the TSA Pre program. Canadiancitizens who are members of the NEXUS program are also eligible for the TSA Pre program. You willnot be assessed any additional fees in order to participate.This means that if you are traveling on participating airlines, after check in, you can skip the long TSAlines and head straight for the TSA Pre- approved line with your Global Entry card. At this point, youcan walk through with your shoes, belt and coat on and you will not need to take any electronics out forx-ray scans. Naturally, the government reserves the right to search you anyway, for whatever reason.Currently, the participating airlines are Delta, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, United and USAirways but only at specific airports. Be sure to check to see which airports offer this service here.Upon approval to the Global Entry program, you will receive an invitation to the TSA Pre program.Each airline will have to separately approve your participation. This program is still in the early stagesand will become more valuable as more airlines sign on board and more airports accommodate theprogram.Another bonus is that your $100 Global Entry fee allows you to use the Mexican government’s SENTRIprogram and the US government’s ReadyLane programs for free. Each will give you expedited entrythrough the Mexican or Canadian border if you are traveling via car.
How long will I have to wait before Iknow if I am accepted or not?Typically, it will take about a week for your application to be approved.You will then be able to schedule your appointment online.What if my passport expires during thefive year membership? Can I transfer thetime left to the new passport?Yes! All you will need to do is go into your online Global Entry accountand update your information.
Other tips:If you travel extensively for a living, your employer may want to investthe $100.00 if time is a big factor in your job. It will save an incredibleamount of time for a paltry $20.00 per year.If you are an American Express Platinum cardholder, they will reimbursemembers $100.00 in fees annually. The Global Entry program would be agreat way to use that benefit.