Recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has introduced a program allowing pre-approved travelers to go through an expedited clearance process when travelling back into the United States. The program was intended to assist frequent international travelers save time while travelling; however, it can be used by any applicant who qualifies for the program. Some of the basic requirements are that the applicant:
- Is a U.S. Citizen or lawful Permanent Resident;
- Has never been convicted of a criminal offence in any country;
- Has never been found in violation of customs, immigration or agricultural laws;
- Is not subject to an investigation by any State, Federal or Local law enforcement agency; or
- Has not provided false or incomplete information on their application.
These requirements are not a complete list and the CBP may deny your application based on other reasons. (e.g. a failed background check).
The program uses automated kiosks at select airports where approved travelers present their Passport or U.S. Green Card, put their fingertips on the scanner to verify their fingerprints and make a customs declaration. Once the traveler is cleared, the kiosk provides a transaction receipt and instructs them to baggage claim/exit area. This is not to say that the traveler will be cleared every time. CBP reserves the right to select travelers for further examination upon entry into the U.S. based on random selection.
Obtaining Global Entry membership requires clearance via a rigorous background check and interview before being permitted to enroll in the program.
To apply for a Global Entry Membership, visit www.globalentry.gov and complete an online application. A non-refundable application fee (currently $100) is required per applicant at the time of application. Upon review of your application, you will be requested to schedule an interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers (located at the nearest participating airport) where the officer will determine your eligibility, take your photo and collect any biometric information (i.e. fingerprints). You will need to take your travel documents (passport or Green Card) with you in addition to a valid form of government-issued identification with a photo (i.e. Driver’s License or ID Card).
Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions (i.e. lying on the application or a misrepresentation on your customs declaration) will result in appropriate enforcement action and revocation of the traveler’s membership privileges. While you can always reapply for a Global Entry card, once you have violated the program’s terms, it will appear in their system and it is up to the reviewing officers to determine if you are eligible for another card.
Not all airports have Global Entry kiosks. A list of the designated airports as well as additional information can be found at https://www.globalentry.gov .