Amid a massive backlog of unprocessed Global Entry applications that has stretched enrollment in the program out to six months or more for many travelers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say they’ll devote more resources to improve the situation in 2020.
Global Entry is a must-have for international travelers, getting you a fast pass through customs and immigration when returning to the U.S. as well as TSA PreCheck. But it’s gotten much harder to enroll in the program in the last year.
More than 350,000 applications in Global Entry are awaiting conditional approval in the program, according to the agency’s latest estimates. That’s up from 300,000 earlier in 2019. And the agency receives another 7,000 applications each day. The result is a long, frustrating process that can take many months to finalize for many travelers.
Customs and Border Protection has acknowledged the backlog. And in 2020, the agency says they’ll take action to reduce it.
To ease the delays and frustration, Customs and Border Protection has turned to Enrollment on Arrival. Rather than scheduling an in-person interview, it allows travelers to finalize Global Entry enrollment while clearing immigration at the airport. That service is now available at 57 different airports nationwide, finalizing an average of 900 Global Entry applications every day.
But a Customs and Border Protection spokesman said that the agency is also planning enhancements to the program that “will further streamline and expand the capacity of Enrollment on Arrival and traditional Enrollment Centers.”
“CBP is also dedicating additional resources to address the 30 percent of Global Entry applicants that require additional processing time and review,” the spokesman told Thrifty Traveler.
The agency would not yet elaborate on what additional resources would be deployed to help process applications.
Travelers trying to renew their Global Entry are in luck, as the agency now grants a one-year grace period for enrollees awaiting renewal to continue using their Global Entry benefits after the expiration date. You can begin the renewal process starting one year before your membership expires.
Getting Global Entry has become a frustrating, time-consuming process for many travelers. Only time will tell what Customs and Border Protection has in store … and whether the situation will actually improve.
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