After discovering the program in the last few months, I finally decided to apply for Global Entry, the pass that eases up on the requirements for leaving the country and re-entering as a U.S. citizen. TSA Pre-Check is included with participating airlines, meaning you can keep your shoes on when you go through security! I wanted to share my experience during the application process for the program and a few things I wish I knew beforehand. While it’s not easy, it is possible to get your Global Entry card in as little as three weeks! Read on to find out how I did it. I was based in New York at that time, so this is my experience of applying for Global Entry in New York City.
Applying for Global Entry is very easy after creating an online account. First, you fill out a form asking for your current and former addresses, employers, countries you have visited, etc. I have no idea if they actually contacted my former employers, but it’s possible they did (I didn’t ask). You pay the $100 fee at this time online. I filled out and submitted my form on a Friday. I heard back from the program one week later, when I was notified that my application was conditionally approved!
Schedule an Interview
On to step two: scheduling an interview at one of the Global Entry application centers.
This is where I ran into some trouble. These centers are almost always located in major international airports, but one can also be found in lower Manhattan. My flight was scheduled to leave in 3 weeks and I was really hoping to get this card before then. I was disappointed to find that the next available interview time slot at ANY of the locations near me (lower Manhattan, JFK and Newark) was about 6-8 weeks away!
I called the JFK Global Entry Office. No answer. I called the lower Manhattan office, and a man picked up. He told me unfortunately, there was nothing he could do and all interviews must be booked online. He said they did not accept walk-ins. He was quite nice, and advised me to check back on the website every day as people did cancel their appointments.
So that’s what I did. The first time I checked, I found an open slot. But, by the time I double checked my calendar to make sure I was free, the slot was taken! I tried again the next day. This time, when I found a slot, I snagged it right away before someone could take it. It just so happened that I was able to get a Friday afternoon appointment booked the day before! Sweet.
Head to the Airport
The next day, I arrived at Newark Airport and made my way to the Global Entry office. I made sure to bring my letter of acceptance, a state ID proving my address, and my passport. I also brought utility bills in case they needed further proof of address, but they did not.
I would advise arriving to the airport around 20 minutes before your appointment because as you know, airports are large, and I had to take the shuttle the correct terminal. In Newark, the Global Entry office was located on the lower level of the Arrivals hall near the Baggage Claim.
There were several other people waiting by the office. The door was blocked off by line separators so you couldn’t approach it. A sign warned people that everyone must be sitting in the waiting area, and no one may be standing in the vicinity. So I sat down, and waited.
Global Entry Interview
An officer exited the office promptly at 4pm and called out the names of those who had appointments. When I heard mine, I entered the office, which was quite small. I sat down for an interview with a man from the U.S. Customs & Border Protection department. He asked me the following questions:
- Is this your current address?
- Have you been arrested?
- Do you travel for business or pleasure?
- Have you been to Mexico or Canada in the last 5 years?
All of the questions were straightforward and easy to answer. He asked me about Mexico and Canada because apparently you also benefit from expedited entry from these countries if you are driving into the country.
The interview concluded within 5 minutes or so. Next up was fingerprinting and photo-taking. All 10 fingers were fingerprinted on their little device, and then my photo was taken from a little webcam on his desk. Easy.
At the end of the interview, the officer reminded me to update my passport records in the GOES system when my passport expires and I get a new one in the future. He said I should receive my Global Entry card within the next 3 weeks. Lucky for me, I received it less than one week later!
I now have full Global Entry!