Wondering Why It’s Taking So Long to Get Your Global Entry? We Have Some Answers.

After AFAR staffers recently reported longer-than-average wait times, we asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection what the holdup was.

Wondering Why It’s Taking So Long to Get Your Global Entry? We Have Some Answers.

If your Global Entry application is taking a while, you’re not alone.

Photo by Gil C

“Any Global Entry experts in the house? I applied like two-and-a-half months ago and still haven’t heard anything,” an AFAR staffer posted this week on one of our company Slack channels. “I applied months ago, too!” another staffer chimed in.

A sample size of two may not be large, but it got us wondering whether there was indeed a backlog for processing Global Entry applications. So we asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which oversees the get-through-customs-quicker program, and as it turns out, the agency is indeed experiencing delays.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler Programs are experiencing an historic increase of new applications and renewals,” a CBP spokesperson said in a statement sent to AFAR. “These record numbers combined with the partial government shutdown and the additional deployment of CBP personnel in response to the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border created a considerable backlog.”

If you recall, the federal government shut down for 35 days from December 22, 2018, until January 25, 2019, making it the longest shutdown in U.S. history. And according to CBP, the agency is still feeling the ramifications of that, in addition to high numbers of applications for its Trusted Traveler Programs, which also include TSA PreCheck.

The spokesperson said that CBP is currently processing between 100,000 to 200,000 applications and renewals each month.

Global Entry membership gives travelers expedited passage through customs and immigration upon re-entry into the United States. To apply for Global Entry, travelers must complete an online application, including information about past travels, and then submit a $100 nonrefundable fee. CBP reviews the applications and those who are preapproved can then schedule an interview.

To complete the process, applicants need to bring a valid passport and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license, to the interview. They will also be asked to provide fingerprint scans. Once fully approved, they will receive a five-year pass to skipping the long lines at immigration when they fly back into U.S. airports.

Despite reports of months-long waits to get word about the interview, CBP stated that it “has made significant progress in reducing the backlog of [Trusted Traveler Programs] applications and renewals.”

The agency said that for new Global Entry applicants, about 65 percent of applications are processed within 15 days, and about 30 to 35 percent of applications require more than 90 days to process.

A bit of consolation for the delays? As of April 2019, Global Entry memberships have been extended to one year beyond the expiration date on the cards, provided that members submit a renewal application prior to their membership expiring (to renew, you will need to log into your account on the Trusted Traveler Programs website, then go to “manage membership” and then click on the “renew application” button). During this one-year extension, cards will remain valid for use.

>> Next: Global Entry Will Soon Be Quicker—but at What Privacy Cost?

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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