Hello guys. This week on my blog I wanted to write about my journey applying for Global Entry, my experience with the application process, why I did it, and the benefits. It wasn’t something that I had planned to do, but more of a spontaneous gesture. My parents just went through the process and recommended I do it as well. As of right now, I take about 3 international trips a year, but I am hoping to increase this number very soon, so it made sense to apply for Global Entry.
What is Global Entry?
So first and foremost, Global Entry is a trusted traveler program administered by U.S Immigration & Customs. It is not like the airline frequent flyer programs, as those are handled by individual airlines, and don’t provide the same perks as Global Entry, unless you are a frequent traveler. However, it is helpful to have a frequent flyer program along with your global entry for added benefits. Now when you are approved for Global Entry, you are considered a low risk traveler, pre approved for TSA pre-check and get to bypass the long immigration and customs line when entering the U.S. It essentially makes your traveling voyage easier, because you don’t have take off your shoes and jacket in security, remove your electronics or wait on the immigration line when returning. But as a result of this, global entry isn’t just given to anyone. It was only $100 for the application fee and last for 5 years, so i figured why not!
For reference, my background is completely clean, so my process was easy sailing, however for someone with a more extensive background, it very well, may not be as easy-going. I applied for the global entry program on February 21st, 2018 on the website https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/. When filling out the application, it is crucial for you to ensure that all your information is correct, especially your passport information, because you’ll need it later on in the process. Once you finish filling out the application, you will be prompted to pay the application fee of $100, which is, of course, non-refundable even if you are denied. Once you’ve applied and paid, you wait. This part of the process can vary in time, because you are waiting for one of the ICE officers to conditionally approve your application so you can set up an interview. They don’t give you a specific time period to expect an answer by, because they say all applications are looked at individually. My application was conditionally approved on March 9th, after two weeks of anxiously waiting (I was anxiously waiting, because I wanted to get approved before I leave for my trip to Jamaica on April 4th). However, the wait wasn’t over, I realized that the longest wait period can take place when you are waiting for the in-person interview, since enrollment centers are usually booked year around. For that exact reason, the minute I saw I was conditionally approved I rushed to book my interview.
I’m not sure if it’s because I live in New York, about 15 minutes from JFK, but when I went to book my interview, the next available one was literally 3 hours later. There were interviews available immediately, with no wait time. I was ecstatic, because this meant I could test out the perks on my next trip. I could of taken the interview that was later on that day, but I decided to take a chill pill and just wait and scheduled it for that next Monday at 1:15pm. The enrollment office was located in Terminal 4, in this small office. It wasn’t unbearably crowded, but I was lucky to get a seat. One thing that really stood out to me was how friendly and helpful the immigration officers were. The woman who was calling our names and taking our passport to the officers we would be interviewing with, made sure the process was quick and seamless. She let us know when there was a shift change and she even helped this family speed up their interview, because they had a flight to catch. When it was my turn, I was escorted to a desk where this nice lady was sitting. My passport was already on the desk, along with the Global Entry paper, so it kind of felt like I had already been approved before I sat down. She did ask me if I was ever arrested, had an run-ins with immigration and took my fingerprints. Once everything came back clear, she went over all the perks of the Global Entry program and she took a picture for my card, which should be coming in the mail in 7-10 days. The best part is you don’t need to have the card to travel, once you are approved and have your ID number you are free to travel as a Global Entry member.
Is Global Entry for You?
Some people may read this and think that Global Entry is a waste of time and money, and it could be, depending on your travel habits. But for someone who travels internationally constantly, Global Entry is your friend. The main reason why is the horrible customs and immigration line. Anyone who's traveled internationally knows that the immigration line is usually the longest line in the whole airport. Now imagine you just came back from a long trip and you can’t wait to just get home, instead of standing in that immigration line, you can just go to one of the global entry kiosks with your ID number, skipping the whole line, and you’re good to go. It also includes the benefit of TSA pre-check. Anyone who has traveled, whether domestic or international, knows the hassle of the security line. Pre-check helps you bypass that completely, without having to take off your belt and jacket or take out your electronics. And for only $100, it is in my opinion, completely worth it.