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Savvy travelers know that Global Entry is the secret to fast-tracking through the airport and minimizing wait time. Part of the process to get approved for Global Entry membership is an in-person interview. Due to backlogs, limited capacity and increased demand, getting a Global Entry interview appointment is not unlike trying to buy Taylor Swift concert tickets—luckily, it’s less expensive and you only have to do it once every five years.
We’ll go over some strategies to get that highly coveted interview appointment and get you on your way to Global Entry membership approval.
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What Is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a membership program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection(CBP), a federal agency. The program provides its members with expedited immigration screening upon entering the U.S. Global Entry members have gone through a pre-screening process, consisting of a rigorous background check and in-person interview and have been assessed as low-risk travelers. As a result, Global Entry members can speed through immigration in minutes when returning to the U.S. from international travel.
Global Entry membership also includes TSA PreCheck, an expedited airport security screening program. TSA PreCheck members can use a dedicated PreCheck lane and go through a reduced screening process, which includes keeping your shoes on, leaving your laptop and 3-1-1 liquids bag in your carry-on and wearing your jacket.
Anyone who wants a Global Entry membership, including infants and children, must apply individually via the Trusted Traveler website. A critical step in the approval process is the Global Entry interview. All new applicants must go through an interview in order to be approved for Global Entry membership and every applicant must schedule their own interview time, i.e. there are no group or family interviews.
Applying for Global Entry can be a long process. The Trusted Traveler website posts current application processing times so you can get an idea of what to expect. At the time of this writing, the processing time was four to six months due to the high volume of applications.
But even after your application is conditionally approved, you still need to get a Global Entry interview scheduled. That can be a challenge given the number of people applying and the limited number of interview slots.
Interviews aren’t just for new applicants—Global Entry members applying for renewal may also be required to interview. Once your renewal application is approved, your dashboard will indicate whether an interview is necessary.
How To Get a Global Entry Interview Appointment
There are two types of Global Entry interviews: in-person and remote. Remote interviews are currently a pilot project and only available to select renewing members.
To schedule an in-person interview, log in to your Trusted Traveler account and navigate to your dashboard. The Schedule Interview option will allow you to choose an interview slot if you’ve been conditionally approved.
Once you’re on the scheduling website, you’ll be able to view all the enrollment centers by location and select your preferred enrollment center(s).
Using the filter option, you can pull up the earliest available interview dates or specify a specific date. For families that need multiple interview times, select the number of appointments you need.
Due to the high demand, interview slots are not always available at all locations. Some enrollment centers open their schedule further out than other centers.
Don’t be surprised to find that there are no appointments available at your preferred center.
Here are some tips on how to score that valuable Global Entry interview appointment.
1. Monitor your application status.
Although you should get an email notification of conditional approval, we recommend regularly checking your dashboard in your Trusted Traveler account for application status in case your notification email finds its way into spam. As soon as your application is conditionally approved, you can schedule your interview. You must schedule and complete the interview within 730 days of conditional approval or your application will be canceled and your fee will not be refunded.
2. Be on the lookout for cancellations at your local enrollment center.
Life happens—people cancel and reschedule appointments as a result. Keep checking the scheduling website for last minute cancellations. Persistence can pay off.
3. Put 9:00 a.m. on the first Monday of the month on your schedule.
In February 2023, CBP announced that it will release additional in-person interview times on the first Monday of the month at 9:00 a.m. local time in an effort to meet the increased demand,
4. Take advantage of Enrollment on Arrival.
Enrollment on Arrival is a CBP program that allows you to complete your Global Entry interview upon arrival to the U.S. No appointment is needed. However, to take advantage of this option, you would have to have been traveling outside the U.S. If this can work into your travel schedule, it’s possibly the fastest way and easiest way to get a Global Entry interview.
Enrollment on Arrival is available in over 60 airports, including over a dozen international airport locations. On arrival at the international terminal, look for the signage directing you to CBP officers who can conduct the Global Entry interview. Be sure to bring the necessary documents as detailed in your conditional approval notice.
5. “Garden” your appointment.
If you’ve made an appointment months away or at a less than convenient location, keep monitoring the schedule for an earlier date or better location. You can easily reschedule your appointment online.
6. Outsource by hiring a search service.
Third-party vendor, Appointment Scanner, will search up to three enrollment centers for appointment openings within your specified date range and alert you to availability. The service is $29 per month and you can unsubscribe at any time. It’s up to you to book the appointment once you’ve been alerted and it’s important to be quick because interview slots can be snatched up fast.
CBP has a pilot program offering remote interviews for renewing Global Entry members. Not all members are eligible to participate and certain criteria must be met:
- Must have conditional approval
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have a photo on file with CBP that was taken within the last 10 years and after the applicant was 14 years old
- Have fingerprints on file with CBP
If you’re eligible for a remote interview, you’ll see that option on your dashboard in your Trusted Traveler account.
Remote interviews are conducted using the Zoom platform so ensure that your device, (computer, tablet, smartphone) is capable of downloading and running Zoom prior to making your interview appointment.
Like an in-person interview, availability may be scarce. The same strategies apply. Keep checking for appointment times since cancellations do occur.
What To Bring to a Global Entry Appointment
Finally, you’ve got your interview appointment booked. Prepare in advance by locating the necessary documents well before your appointment day and avoid last minute panic searches. And of course, don’t forget to bring these important documents with you to the interview.
To get the definitive list of documents you’ll need, log in to your Trusted Traveler account and head to your dashboard. The interview confirmation link will provide you with the required documents for your interview.
Typically, these original documents include:
- A valid passport. If you travel with more than one passport then you’ll need to bring all your passports with you.
- A machine readable permanent resident card, if applicable
- Documents showing proof of residency, for example, driver’s license, mortgage statement, utility bill, rental payment statement
- Your Trusted Traveler/PassID membership number, available in on your dashboard
Children under 18 do not have to provide proof of address, since it’s expected that their parent or guardian will provide the proof of address of the child’s behalf
How To Sign up for Global Entry Right Now
To sign up for Global Entry, head to the Trusted Traveler website. You’ll see the full range of Trusted Traveler programs. Create a Trusted Traveler program account with login.gov and then start the application process by selecting Global Entry. Complete the application carefully since you won’t be able to make any corrections once submitted. Corrections can be made during your interview if necessary.
Before paying the non-refundable $100 fee (good for a five-year membership), check your wallet for credit cards that reimburse the Global Entry fee. Several credit cards provide this valuable benefit.
Now the waiting begins. Monitor your Trusted Traveler account and keep an eye on your email inbox for notification as to the status of your application. As soon as your application status is updated to “conditionally approved,” you can schedule your Global Entry interview.
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Global Entry can expedite your passage through airport security and minimize the time it takes to get from the plane to your home, making the whole process more efficient with less hassle. The faster you can get your Global Entry interview, the sooner you’ll have approval and access to all Global Entry benefits. Using our tips will help you get that interview appointment and on your way to a better in-airport experience.