What is Global Entry, and How Long Will It Take to Get Approval (My Experience in 2018) 

I recently got approval for Global Entry.  Since I am not a frequent traveler, I have always thought this program is not for me.  However, one of credit cards I have been using has started offering reimbursement of global entry application fees in mid-2018.  Therefore, I decided to apply to it because getting global entry will be free for me now.  

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1. What is Global Entry, and What is Benefits?

According to the website of U.S.Department of Homeland Security , Global Entry is a “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.”  

You can enjoy two separate benefits once you get approval for global entry, i.e., if you are recognized as low-risk traveler.   One of the benefits is inherent to Global Entry itself, and the other benefit is derived from TSA Pre✓ program to which you will be automatically for free when you are approved for global entry. 

1.1  Benefits of Global Entry Itself

The benefit which is inherent to Global Entry is an expedited procedures in entering to the US.  For example, when you come back from foreign travel and arrive to one of the US airports, global entry holder can proceed to a designated lane for global entry holders for immigration to which fewer people use (thus, less wait time).  There, you can use Global Entry Customer Kiosk which gives you printout of the transaction receipt after scanning your passport or green card, finger prints (for green card holder) and answering custom declaration questions.   No need to go to immigration officer’s booth afterwards, and you can directly proceed to baggage claim area after receiving transaction receipt.  

JFK Airport is my home airport, and there, Kiosks have been installed to all the lanes including the ones for regular travelers (thus, you no longer need to fill in paper-based custom declaration form).  At the lane for regular traveler, travelers can receive transaction receipt after scanning passport or green card, fingerprint, and having face photo taken.  And at the immigration officer’s booth, all I h ave to do is to show the receipt, passport, a green card.  I have not received any particular questions by immigration officer, lately (Probably because I am residing in the U.S. long enough?).   

However, I sometimes feel like it takes forever to reaching to the immigration officer’s booth after getting a receipt at the kiosk.  And getting my turn to use the Kiosk itself also takes a while.  So, I am sure having a dedicated lane for global entry holder saves a lot of time. 

1.2 Benefits of TSA Pre✓

As mentioned above, once you got approval for global entry, you will be automatically enrolled to TSA Pre✓ program.   The benefit of being a member of TSA Precheck program is expedited procedures upon departure at the airport (both domestic and international flights).

At the departure airports, there are dedicated lanes for TSA Pre✓ holders for security inspection.  The lanes are shorter compared to the regular lanes (thus, less wait time).   

In addition, at the designated lanes, there is no need to remove shoes, belt, thin jacket, laptop, and 3-1-1 liquid from your carry-on bag for security inspections.  3-1-1 liquid means you can carry containers of 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less in one quart-sized clear plastic container per one person.  Personally, I love the rule that I can keep my laptop in my bag.

2. Who Can Apply to Global Entry

U.S. Citizen, U.S. Permanent Lawful Residents (i.e., green card holders) and select foreign nationals (*) are eligible to apply.

(*) Details about select foreign nationals who are able to apply Global Entry without having green card, please see the following link: U.S. Custom and Border Protection : International Arrangements 

However, according to the information gathered through internet search, not having any criminal records seems to be hidden requirement.  Persons with criminal records can apply, but their applications are most likely rejected upon background check (and they will not get refund of the application fees).  Also, I read various stories on the web that if you experienced false arrest in the past, since such arrest record remain in the records, you need to bring proper documents that prove that arrest was false or proof that you were acquitted at the interview in order to pass the interview.

3. Application Fee and Expiration Date

3.1 Basic Information

The application fee for global entry is $100 and once approved, it will be effective for five years.  From my experience, the five years seem to start counting from the next birthday after the approval of the global entry.  So, you will receive 5+ years in reality. 

If you probably would not travel internationally but use domestic flight pretty frequently, you might be better off applying to TSA Pre✓, instead.  It is valid for 5 years as well, and the application fee is $85. 

3.2. List of Credit Cards that Will Reimburse the Application Fees for Global Entry / TSA Pre ✓

According to the Transportation Security Administration’s web site (as of June 16, 2019), following credit cards cover card holders’ application fees for Global Entry or TSA Pre ✓.   Most of them let you chose one of the program, but some of them can be used only for TSA Pre✓.

The following credit cards and loyalty programs cover the TSA Pre✓® application fee as a member benefit, provide a statement credit towards the application fee, or allow members to use rewards points to pay for the TSA Pre✓® application fee.

  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
  • BB&T Spectrum Travel Rewards card
  • Capital One® Spark® Miles Card
  • Capital One® Venture® Card
  • Certain American Express® Credit Cards
  • Chase Sapphire ReserveSM
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard®
  • Citi Prestige® Card
  • Club Carlson
  • Diners Club® Carte Blanche® Corporate Card
  • Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi
  • HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards®
  • MasterCard® Black Card™
  • MasterCard® Gold Card™
  • Navy Federal’s Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Card
  • Orbitz Rewards®
  • SunTrust Travel Rewards World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
  • PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® card
  • Provident World+ Travel®
  • Radisson Rewards™
  • UnitedSM Explorer Card
  • United MileagePlus®
  • US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
  • US Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card

(Source:Transportation Administration Security: Credit Cards and Loyalty Programs featuring TSA Pre✓®

3.3 My Experience (UnitedSM Explorer Card)

The credit card I used for paying Global Entry application fee was Chase Bank’s UnitedSM Explorer Card.  Reimbursement of the application fee is a new benefits added since 2018.  Card members can use this benefit every four years and get the statement credit up to $ 100 if this benefit is utilized.

When I paid the application fee using this card and charged $100, the statement credit of $100 was reflected on the credit card statement on the very same day.  Since the reimbursement did not spillover to the next credit statement cycle, it was virtually free.

4. Timeline in Global Entry Approval

From a conclusion, I received the Global Entry Card in less than 4 weeks. Below is a timeline from the application to the receipt of the card. 

4.1 Submit Online Application (8/28/2018)

The application process can be done online.   First, please go to the website of Department of Homeland Security: Trusted Traveler Programs.  There, you have five trusted traveler programs to chose from, which include Global Entry, TSA Pre✓®, SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST.   

When you select “Get Started” button of desired program (Global Entry if you qualify), you are navigated to the login.gov where you can create a login.gov ID using your email address.  You will receive email shortly asking to confirm that the email address is correct by clicking the link in the email.  

Create password, sign in and from here, you can start filling in application form.  Information requested are that of passport, green card, drivers license (if you have)  as well as residential and work addresses.   After you pay $100, you are all set for now. 

4.2 Receipt of Email Informing the Status Change (9/19/2018)

Once application has been submitted, background check will be performed based on the information declared in the application form.   As far as I know, it usually takes two to three weeks.  In case of myself, it took three weeks, as I received an email titled “TTP Application Status Change” from U.S. Customs and Border Protection in such a timing. 

Since the email did not give any details, I logged in to the website of Trusted Traveler Programs and confirmed that I was conditionally approved for global entry and I instructed to schedule an interview.  It explains that interview date has to be selected within 365 days of the conditional approval. 

4.3 Schedule an Appointment for the Interview

Upon confirming the conditional approval, I immediately scheduled an interview from the Trusted Traveler Program’s site. 

Each state has interview locations, but depending on the state or city in which you live, you might have hard time finding available slots for the interview, which results in long wait time after receiving the conditional approval. 

There are three ways you can use to get an interview earlier. 

(1) Wait for Cancellation

This might be the most realistic way, which is to schedule an interview with the desired interview site at the next available date/time even if the date is far in advance.  Then, wait and see if anybody who scheduled an interview before the date of your interview might cancel such interview. 

For your information, you can see the list of interview sites along with the available interview slots  (not required to login) from below link:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Trusted Traveler Programs – Schedule Appointment

(2) Select an Airport as a Place for the Interview

Not all, but some airports such as JFK and Newark airports are conducting interview daily, including weekends.  And it is relatively easy to schedule an interview as they tend to open from early in the morning to late at night.  Therefore, if the airport near you are designated as one of the interview site, it is worth checking their interview slots as you might be able to secure the interview date pretty soon.  For example, I found that JFK airport has available time slot even for next day. 

Hours of operation of each interview site can be found from the below link:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Global Entry Enrollment Centers

(3) Wait Until Next International Flight – 

If you are already conditionally approved and plan to travel internationally anytime soon, you can get the interview without appointment upon arrival at the 49 airports which are participating in CBP’s Enrollment on Arrival (EoA) program. 

List of the airports which are accepting interview at the arrival are found here: U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Enrollment on Arrival Locations

(4) My Experience: Got Next Day Appointment at Manhattan location by Snatching Cancellation

What I did was combination of (1) and (2) above.  As mentioned above, I was conditionally approved on September 19, 2018, and started scheduling the interview.

I wanted to schedule an interview as soon as possible as I plan to travel to Japan within a month or so.  Also I wanted to schedule an interview within Manhattan for the convenience, however, the next available date for the interview in Manhattan location was about 1.5 month and 2 months away.   So, I tentatively scheduled an interview at JFK airport location for the first weekend after the conditional approval because the interview was conducted every day as explained above, and there were, in fact, a lot of available interview slots. 

I had a full intent to go to JFK airport, if necessary.   However, I checked interview scheduling page every 30 minutes to see if anybody who had signed up for the interview at Manhattan location might cancel.   And fortunate enough, somebody had cancelled the appointment for the next day (September 20, 2018), and I was able to snatch that time slot.

4.4 Interview (9/20/2018)

As mentioned above, I was interviewed in Manhattan.  Specifically, it was “US Custom House-Bowling Green” in downtown. 

My impression was it was a mere administrative procedure rather than an interview.  After going through the security gate on the first floor (at this point, I was asked to give my name so that they can check if I actually have an appointment for the Global Entry interview), I was instructed to go to the meeting space on the third floor.  When my interview time approached, an officer showed up and made a roll call of people who were supposed to be in the meeting space.  He collected our passports (and green card from me as I am not a US citizen), and we were guided to go to a room on the fourth floor as a group.   

At the fourth floor, we watched a video about the global entry in the corner of the room.  I believe officers spent time checking the information on the passport and green card and comparing against the ones in the application form while the video was running because when the video was about to end, we were asked to proceed to the interview in the order we were called.  Since there were more than one officers, some of us were called at the same time and each of us were instructed to go to different officer.

During my interview, after the officer confirmed my name, only question I was asked was my date of birth.  Then, I was instructed to put my fingers on scanner for scanning (possibly, to compare the ones take for the green card), and to look at the camera for the photo shoot.  And that’s it.  I was told that my application was approved and I can expect to receive the card by postal mail in 1 to 2 weeks.  The officer said that the global entry number is already valid, so it’s okay to start using it immediately for air travel.

About 30 minutes after the interview ended, I received an email titled “TTP Application Status Change” again from US Customs and Border Protection. When I logged in to the website of the Trusted Traveler Program , there was a message stating that I was approved for Global Entry.

4.5 Receipt of the Card(via Postal Mail:9/25/2018)

I received the global entry card on a few days after the interview.   I went back to the website of Trusted Traveler Program, and activated the card.  And I was all set. 

Regarding the expiration date, the Global Entry status is valid for five years from the next birthday, and we can start renew procedures from one year before the expiration date.  Also, according the the information in the website of Trusted Traveler Program (shown below), we do not need to carry the card when traveling by air, but the card has to be presented when traveling by land between the US and Canada or Mexico.  

 

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アメリカ(ニューヨーク)に住み始めて17年目です。株式投資、インターネット活動を通して自宅で安定収入を得ることを目指しています。 ▶ 詳しいプロフィールはこちらから。
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I am a Japanese, residing in the US. I am trying to find a way to earn stable income at home through investments in stocks or other products as well as some sort of internet business. ▶ More detailed profile can be viewed from here.
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