Ensuring that our borders are protected from terrorists and making traveling experiences pleasant for peaceful citizens and for those who do not pose a threat is one of the main initiatives of the Department of Homeland Security. They do this through individual clearance programs like Nexus card, Global Entry and TSA Pre Check.
The Global Entry program is administered by the US Customs and Border Protection. Once approved you are entitled to use expedited lanes at participating US airports while skipping the traditional customs counter. Since the Global Entry lines are pretty much empty, the amount of time it takes to get through the airport is almost little to none.
Global entry does cost money and is good for 5 years. I strongly urge everyone who is a frequent flier to apply for this program.
I recently got approved and here is my experience.
I went to the GlobalEntry.Gov website and registered for a new GOES (Global Online Enrollment System) account. The system asks simple questions and finally lets you select a username and a password. Once the account is created, you go back to GlobalEntry.Gov and login as an existing GOES user.
Once logged into my account, I completed the Trusted Traveler Program application. This one is a detailed application and requires information such as passport, birth certificate, residence and employment history. At the end of the application you have to pay the $100 processing fee.
After the application is submitted, the waiting begins. You can always check the status by logging into the GOES account.
For the first week after the submission, the status of my application was “Pending Review.” After one week I receive a letter advising me that I was conditionally approved and that I needed to schedule an appointment to interview in person.
There are only a select number of airports that have CBP locations in them. The closest one to me was at the Detroit Metropolitan airport. I looked at the available time slots and booked one at 10:00 AM.
I arrived an hour earlier than my scheduled time and was worried that CBP will not take me in until at least 15 till. So I decided to first locate their office and then wonder around the airport to kill some time.
I found the office on the left hand side of the escalators near the baggage claims area. It was a fairly small office and a CBP officer was sitting behind a window.
I introduced myself and told her that I was an hour early. To my surprise, she said it was not a problem and told me to give her my passport, driving license and have a seat.
I took a seat and grabbed one of their CBP related magazines to read. Five minutes into the wait, an agent came out looking for me. He told me that I can keep the magazine if I liked it and that I should come with him.
He led me to a small desk where I took the seat and waited for him to get his computer ready. He joked about the chair I was sitting in being known as the “hot seat” and asked if I was excited to proceed. I gave a nod of agreement with a smile in return and we started.
The interview questions were mostly about what I entered in my application. Nothing he asked me stood out as out of the ordinary or personal. There were some yes/no questions very similar to the ones you get asked when giving blood, applying for a passport or a driving license.
At the end of the interview he took my photo, collected my biometrics and placed a sticker in my passport. After the end of the interview he told me that it was authorized for 5 years for the Global Entry program. We then moved onto a training session for how to use the Global Entry kiosk.
At the Global Entry kiosk, he went through the procedures that I would need to follow when entering the United States. I was happy to know that I was entitled to no waiting in the customs line and could pass through immediately.
The whole process went really well and took about 15 minutes. All the agents in that office were very pleasant and had smiles on their faces. My interviewing officer took time to explain all my concerns and questions. I must say that I returned from my interview very happy and satisfied.
Card and Activation
About a week after the interview I received the Global Entry card. I went back to the GOES website to activate the card which was the last step in my enrollment. The whole process was painless, pleasant and exciting.
Now I cannot wait to use this and see if this clearance was worth it.