Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Global Entry Program by U.S. Customs and Border Protection - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Over 1 million people are currently enrolled in the Global Entry program of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). According to CBP, 96% of the members are from the United States, but as of 2013, nationals from other countries are also accepted into this worthwhile program, including Germany, Mexico, Qatar, Netherlands, Panama, Korea, and the United Kingdom. Currently, Global Entry kiosks are located at 31 airports in the United States, and 10 pre-clearance airports in Canada and Ireland.

Global Entry is a way for CBP to facilitate or expedite the international arrival and clearance process for the almost 1,000,000 international passengers who attempt to enter the United States each day. Members approved into Global Entry are determined to be "low risk". Applicants must submit an online application, pay a fee, have the information vetted by CBP, and undergo an in-person interview by a CBP officer.

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently completed a critical analysis of Global Entry and CBP's other "Trusted Travelers" programs, and issued a May 2014 Report to Congress. While the GAO Report was generally complimentary, it was very critical of the discrepancies that occured among CBP interviewers for Global Entry applicants. GAO stated that "interviews may not be conducted consistently across enrollment centers" resulting in the denial of otherwise qualified applicants. According to CBP, approximately 5% of applicants are denied membership into Global Entry. Appplicants whose applications are denied are to be notified by email of the denial. Denied applicants can reapply for a trusted traveler program or request reconsideration of the denial to be trusted traveler Ombudsman.

Persons with felony convictions are automatically denied, however, applicants with misdemeanors may be considered for inclusion in some cases, depending on how recent the convictions were, the overall number of misdemeanor convictions, and the applicant's nationality. According to the GAO Report, approximately 40% of the appeals to the Ombudsman were granted, allowing the applicant membership into Global Entry, however, the appeal processing time is 5 months.

My take is this - Global Entry is awesome! I just returned from Colombia to Miami International Airport, went to the Global Entry kiosk, answered a few questions on the machine, had the "ticket" printed, skipped the long line waiting for a CBP officer, and handed my ticket to the CBP officer as I walked out the door. Total time was only a few minutes. Anyone who can qualify should apply immediately. Any applicants who are initially denied should appeal to the Ombudsman after consulting with an attorney or other person who is very knowledgeable about the customs laws and regulations, including the Global Entry process.

Peter Quinter, Chair
Customs and International Trade Law Group
GrayRobinson, P.A.
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Miami, Florida 33131


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