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Application to Approval in 13 Days: My Global Entry Success Story

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Some of you might hate me for this, but less than two weeks after submitting my application last month, I was approved for Global Entry.

Global Entry is one of the best travel timesavers to breeze through immigration after returning to the U.S. – plus it gets you through airport security faster as it includes a TSA PreCheck membership, too. But the enrollment process is notorious for being slow. There are years worth of horror stories of taking six-plus months or more to get signed up due to application backlogs, struggles scheduling an in-person interview, and more.

And then there's my story: From start to finish, I got Global Entry in 13 days. But was my speedy signup rare? Or has the Global Entry program finally turned a corner and started processing applications faster?


My Global Entry Story

It started late last month.

I started the process of applying for Global Entry on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 21. The application process itself is fairly simple and straightforward, with personal details as well as information on your travel history. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes.

At the end of the application, I paid the $100 application fee – with a credit card that covers the entire cost of Global Entry. From there, I was directed to a page that told me my application was pending review.

Global Entry Conditional Approval 

This is the part where many travelers get hung up. To proceed, you need to be conditionally approved by Customs and Border Protection. While it's unpredictable, getting conditional approval on your Global Entry application can take many months.

But less than two days after applying, I received an email alerting me to an “Application Status Change.” Sure enough, after clicking through to my account, I had been conditionally approved for Global Entry.

Global Entry Conditional Approval 

That meant I could schedule my in-person interview at a Global Entry enrollment center – the final step in registering for Global Entry. But finding an open appointment can be another major pain point in the enrollment process, especially for travelers in major U.S. cities where demand is high.

Read more: 5 Tips to Get a Global Entry Appointment Faster

When I checked for available appointments at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) airport, there were openings 10 days in advance, starting Monday, Aug. 2. To secure a better time, I scheduled my appointment for the following day.

My appointment was at 8:15 a.m. Aug. 3 on the baggage claim level of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). The Global Entry office has a small door near the international arrivals area. About five others were there waiting for their appointments when I arrived that morning.

My name was called at 8:20 a.m. and I was taken into a generic-looking office. The agent took my passport, driver's license, and then fingerprinted both of my hands. He asked me if I had ever been convicted of any crimes or violated any agriculture or immigration laws, took my picture, and then sent me on my way with some paperwork explaining the Global Entry program.

By the time I pulled into my driveway 20 minutes later, I had a new email alerting me to an “Application Status Change.” I had been approved.

Global Entry approval 

Exactly one week after that, I received my Global Entry card in the mail. I activated it online and can now use it to enter the U.S. on land borders, too.

Curious about applying for Global Entry? Read our master guide to enrolling in Global Entry!


Is Global Entry Registration Getting Faster?

It won't always be this quick to get Global Entry.

That was particularly true over the last few years, as government issues led to a major backlog. And when the pandemic hit in 2020, Global Entry enrollment centers nationwide shut down for months.

But Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has made a handful of moves in the last year that has streamlined the process, including:

  • Expanded availability of Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival to 63 airports, allowing travelers to finish registration when returning to the U.S.
  • They're giving renewing members a full 24-month grace period to continue, taking the pressure off processing those Global Entry renewals
  • Renewing members also may have the option to interview via Zoom – and some renewing travelers may not need an interview at all.
  • A CBP spokesperson said they've increased the number of scheduled interviews by 74% in 2021.

After peaking in late 2019 and into 2020, CBP said it had reduced its backlog of pending applications by more than 30% as of early July 2021. The agency is aiming to eliminate that backlog altogether by the end of 2021.

global entry kiosks 

Some of our Thrifty Traveler Premium members have noticed the difference, too. While some said they were left waiting for months for an interview last year when enrollment centers were shut down, a survey of our members found that more than 75% finished their enrollment within three months of applying – or less.

That includes several travelers who applied for Global Entry within the last few months, including two travelers (one from northern Minnesota and another in Los Angeles) who were approved in less than a week.


How to Get Your Global Entry Approved Fast

Here are a few tips for getting your Global Entry approved quickly in 2021.

  • Don't wait – the cost might go up! My application – and the Thrifty Traveler Premium members who also applied this summer was relatively smooth and quick. Get your application in now, and make an interview appointment as soon as possible. There's another reason: The federal government is working on raising the cost of Global Entry (and other Trusted Traveler Programs) from $100 to $120. Get your foot in the door while it's cheaper!
  • Be an interview appointment hawk. If your nearest enrollment center says there aren't available appointments until later in the year, don't just take their word for it! Book the next available appointment, whenever that is, as soon as you can, but then check the appointment schedule calendar early every morning to see if cancellations or a new batch of appointments open an earlier window.
  • Use Enrollment on Arrival. If you are traveling abroad soon, use the EoA program to get an interview without an appointment. As soon as you land, you can interview with a CBP agent that day at the airport. Just make sure you allow for the extra time the interivew will take and if you have to wait for others in front of you.
  • Be prepared. According to a CBP spokesperson, the most important thing for interviewees is to come prepared. If you don't bring all of your documents and information with you, you will have to make a new appointment and come back later. That misstep could cost you months. At minimum, you'll need to bring a valid passport, another form of ID like a driver's license.


Bottom Line

For years, Global Entry enrollment has gained a reputation for taking months or more. That alone has scared many travelers off from signing up, intsead opting for a much-faster TSA PreCheck process.

My recent success story proves that's not always the case – you can get through faster. Will enrolling in less than two weeks from start to finish will become the norm? That remains to be seen.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

65 Responses

  • My renewal went thru in 26 days with no in person interview of any kind. I sent the renewal in and the next thing I got was my extension.

  • You probably already had TSA Pre check. My husband and I applied at the same time, and he was conditionally approved that weekend. I have not been conditionally approved yet. The difference? He had Pre check, and I didn’t.

  • I was conditionally approved the following day after submitting my initial application. I do not have TSA Pre-Check.

  • It’s just pure dumb luck. My wife and I both applied for new (not renewal) global entry passes on a Friday evening. First mine, and then hers an hour later. She got conditional approval 36 hours later on a Sunday morning. I am still stuck on “Pending Review” over a month later.

    • Exact same scenario with my husband and I. I got my conditional approval within 24 hours and almost 2 months later we are still waiting for my husbands. We went ahead and applied for TSA Precheck and got approved just to be on the safe side for our trip to Ireland in October.

  • I wonder if the city you reside plays a part? I applied a month (sept) ago, just because and I have not been approved yet. I reside in Metro Detroit. I hope it gets approved this month.

  • I applied for a renewal 6 weeks ago, I had pre check , and as a flight attendant it’s a huge inconvenience to be waiting for so long for a renewal, yes big mistake! I shouldn’t have waited for my Global Entry to expire!
    Meanwhile my husband got his renewal very quick!

    • Same here! Applied September 2021. Haven’t heard a dam thing, while others are getting approved within weeks. So frustrating and now wishing I would’ve just applied for TSA Pre Check.

  • Thank you so much for this article!! None of us had TSA pre-check or anything before so I was less than hopeful about the timeline. I applied for myself and my family on Friday the 3rd, got conditionally approved Saturday the 4th, and got an appointment 10 months in the future. I was bummed, but I read your article so I checked every day every like 3-4 hours for new openings and then all of a sudden they opened 27 new appointments for the next day, the 9th. Booked all three of our appointments, did the interviews and by the time I got home I had my approval email! From application to approval in 6 days all thanks to your advice! Thanks again!

  • My wife, the non-traveler, got conditionally approved in FOUR days. … here I am, still waiting, months later.

  • Over 70 days and still waiting. I’ve had Precheck for a long time already so I don’t think that has any bearing whatsoever. Just hit and miss I suppose. Seems that some who apply later might get approved before those that have been in line for a long time. I certainly don’t know what the internal process they perform is, but maybe some of us are more complicated to complete for some reason.

  • From start to finish, it took me only 3 days.

    Jan 24 – Signed up and paid for Global Entry
    Jan 26 – Conditional Approved, signed up for an interview on April 27th, rescheduled to Jan 26th, went for an interview. Approved right away.

  • I applied online for a renewal on Nov. 22, 2021. I keep checking and I still have the grey hourglass and “wait for conditional approval” status. Meanwhile, my husband who is also renewing, did his sometime in December, well after I did mine, and he got approval and interview and passed and just received his in the mail. I have ZERO IDEA why it’s taking so much longer for mine. I know they have a backlog but the fact that my husband’s went through after just two weeks in mind blowing, LOL!

  • My gf and I applied Jan 28th. We both got conditional approval about 27-28 hours after we submitted our application. I live in DFW area and at first the closest appt was not till late April, but I’ve been checking around the clock and one opened today for Feb 3rd. Assuming I get officially approved it will make the entire process only 6 days (versus about 3 months had I kept my original April appt). My gf lives in the Houston area though and they didn’t have any available appts at first until today and she was able to get a Feb 22nd date, but she will still be checking to hopefully get one even sooner.

  • My husband and I submitted our applications on the Jan 21st. I received my conditional approval the next day, had my interview 5 days later and was approved. We expected to receive his conditional approval around the same time but his status hasn’t changed from ‘pending review’ yet.

  • Conditional approved in less than 24 hours for global entry. DFW airport says No appointments available for this location. With conditional approval can I go in Tsa pre-check with my pending TSA number?

  • It has been a month now and my application still says waiting conditional approval. Am I on the naughty list? I see posts above of LESS THAN 24 HRS

  • I submitted a first-time application and got and interview with instant approval in TEN days. I was conditionally approved in 48 hours and my original appointment was 4 months away, then 1 month away, then 1 WEEK away. Ya just gotta keep re-scheduling until you work your way up to an acceptable date. It only took two days and two appointment re-schedules for me but I checked the website every 30 minutes during the day. Keep refreshing that website folks! You have to make an effort.

  • Fiancé and I applied Feb 7th for Global Entry (first timers), and we’re both still waiting for conditional approval.

  • Applied: 2/12/22; Conditionally Approved: 2/14/22; Interview: 2/15/22; Approval: 2/21/22

    Thanks to this article and the comments! As soon as I was conditionally approved, I scheduled an interview. Originally the earliest interview I could find for my airport was in April. I selected that. But then I followed the advice here and (1) broadened my interview search area and (2) kept checking every 45 minutes or so for appointments in my area. For example, I am in DMV but was looking at NJ, NYC, VA, DC, MD). I found one that opened up for 2/26 for JFK and selected that. I kept checking and then I found another one in VA at the last minute for the next morning! Hopped on that one, went, and was approved 6 days later.

  • I applied Nov 18,2021. I’m still waiting for the conditional approval. It’s Feb 22rd. I already have a TSA pre-check. I don’t understand why is this process is taking so long. I just don’t get it. I’m so frustrated.

  • Does anyone know of anyone who has applied again to see if they get their Conditional Approval quicker? I applied in October 2021 along with my husband four our Anniversary trip in January 2022. He got his Conditional Approval in less than a week. Me, well I’m still waiting. We both have had TSA Pre for years. Only difference is he has Clear and I did not (I do now though). I am tempted to just reapply under a different email and pay an additional $100 as if I am hoping to win some sort of lottery. Thoughts?

    • If you find the answer to this, I’d be curious. I also registered for Global Entry in October 21. As of today, June 2nd 2022, I’m still pending review. I’ve also had TSA Precheck for years. I’m about to give up and just assume they took my money and ran. I literally feel scammed.

  • Mine took three and a half months.
    Applied: 25 November
    Conditional Approval: 8 March
    UK citizen. First time.

  • Start to finish in 8 days. No previous Global Entry or PreCheck, but I did have to have an FBI background check with fingerprints in January for a job (IT Consulting). Day 1 application, day 2 conditional approval notification, day 7 in-person interview (lucky to find an open slot), and day 8 approval notification.

  • Start to finish in 7 days! Process below was for both my husband and myself;
    Applied: 3/27/22 (Sunday)
    Conditional Approval: 3/28/22 (Monday)
    In-person Interview: 4/2/22 (Saturday)
    Full Approval: 4/2/22 (Saturday)
    All of the advice here was GREAT! I made our first interview appointments as soon as I received our conditional approvals. I went for the first available within 2 hours of Columbus, OH and received 7/9/22. I started my appointment search early Tuesday morning and hit the jackpot. The Cincinnati location opened up appointment slots for Saturday, April 2nd. I scheduled both of our appointments for 10:15am. We received our final approvals while we were driving home!

  • I applied 6 Jan 2022 and my “Dashboard” still states “waiting for conditional approval”. I check the status board about once a week.

  • I applied Tuesday morning April 26, 2022. I received conditional approval Thursday morning
    April 28, 2022. I secured an appointment at PHL for Saturday April 30, 2022 at 1:15pm. I was approved by 4pm Saturday April 30, 2022. 4 days application to approval. It is possible.

  • Applied Feb 5, 2022 and still waiting. My husband applied April 11 and was approved the 13th. I don’t get it. I emailed them and got a candid response that it can take up to 4 months. So frustrating.

  • My wife and I both applied on same day. The next morning she got the status change email and she was conditionally approved. 3 weeks and still in pending review for me. Scheduling the interview will be the next headache. No appointments available at any of the airports near us.

  • I been waiting almost 5 months – still under conditional pending. I don’t understand why it takes so long to have this process.

  • I’ve had TSA PreCheck for years and pulled the trigger on Global Entry in early October of 2021. Here we area in early June of 2022, 9 months later, and I’m still Pending Review. I’m about to write this whole experience off and just assume I got scammed.

  • This whole thing reeks of scam. I had Global Entry years ago when my kids and I needed it – we all received it in a timely manner, got appointments down at the border, and jumped through the hoops. It expired years ago and I didn’t need it so I didn’t renew. Now, I’m applying again (also including TSA PreCheck) and so far, 2 months and still pending. Perhaps all the Real ID crossover apps are an issue, but this has turned into a “take your money and you can wait til hell freezes over” scam.

  • Applied 4 months ago….NOTHING! There is no way to follow up and confirm you are in some sort of que…I find this unacceptable, especially when I see that others seem to be jumping ahead of me. I travel often and no having the global entry is very inconvenient. Why do some get in immediately and yet others take months?

    • I agree! I applied July 3 and I have friends who applied after me and they were conditionally approved in 3 days! So unfair. I wish we could contact someone. Frustrating.

  • I am traveling in five weeks, wondering if it’s worth apply for Global Entry. Does conditional approval mean I will be able to use TSA precheck? Or should I forget global and just apply for precheck? Thank you

    • Five weeks is a fairly tight timeline to get approved and interview for Global Entry – unless everything goes right. You won’t get PreCheck until after the interview, not during your conditional approval window. So if you really, really need PreCheck for your trip, I’d consider PreCheck over Global Entry.

  • I am about 3 weeks out from my travel dates. I read this article as well as some comments here and decided that the worst case scenario is that I won’t get approved in time and I’ll just have to stand in line. The other option I had was to just get TSA PreCheck – very viable option for leaving the country and domestic flights (what I would mostly fly anyways). But since I was getting this credited by my Chase Sapphire Reserve and won’t be able to get credit again for another 4-5 years, I wanted to get Global Entry. So I applied Friday (7/15). I got conditionally approved late late late Saturday night ( 7/16) but I didn’t see it until Sunday (7/17). The earliest soonest appointments available online were in late October or November (3-4 months out), so I snagged one as a placeholder in case it got worse. I paid for a service called Appointment Scanner that basically scrapes the website and notifies you when an (earlier) appointment becomes available. You just have to be ready to log in and schedule/reschedule immediately after being notified. Life changer because I snagged an appointment for THE NEXT DAY! (today!) This is about to be one of the quickest Global Entry process turnaround times: 3 days.

    Applied Friday (7/15)
    Conditionally approval late late late Saturday night ( 7/16) but didn’t see it until Sunday (7/17)
    Signed up for Appointment Scanner service and it helped land interview appointment for Monday (7/18)

  • 93 days and counting – applied 4/20 and still pending review as of this morning. Applied in the Wash, DC area and did not have pre-check previously. Was hoping to have it for an upcoming trip at the end of July, but that is obviously out of the question at this point. *shrug*

  • Maybe it is faster in some states. I applied on April 25th and am still waiting. I live near Nashville, TN.

  • Can you cancel application and get a refund? How about Credit card purchase protection for Non performance by Homeland Security!

  • A few friends and I were coming from Medellin and applied. They were all conditionally approve one within minutes of applying in the airport, the other by the time our flight landed in Miami. Meanwhile, it’s almost September and I’m still not conditionally approved. I already had precheck, and I’m AD. I’m not understanding the hold up 😩

  • I’ve been waiting for over two months for approval. I don’t think this article provided any useful information whatsoever. The worst part is, there isn’t anything you can do about it. They will just continue to take forever in processing the application and when they get around to it they will. It’s the sad truth of the matter. It’s a shame our systems and processes are not efficient.

  • Husband and I both applied. Onditional approval granted! Went to Mexico had interview on Return thru Huston. Officer we were both approved! Before we got home hubby had email confirmation of approval. I am still waiting and watching my application status. I guess I will be waiting a l o n g …….time! Sad!

  • DC area- Applied Friday approved Sunday. Found interview date for early December. Have a TS clearance and was already signed up to USAJobs for years. So not surprised my approval was fast

  • Start to finish, my girlfriend and I were done and approved for Global Entry in 6 days. Stay on top of the open interviews (search search search daily) and get it done.

  • Applied (first time, after getting green card) on Saturday noon, November 5th. Got conditional approval on Sunday evening, November 6th. Used the “Global Interview” app to snag an interview this morning, November 7th (someone canceled late last night). The enrollment center closest to me (Bowling Green, NYC) only had appointments available in March 2023, so definitely the best $4.99 I’ve spent to date. No wait time on arrival and approval on the spot. The whole thing took 43 hours from application to approval – the best immigration experience I’ve had in the US to date.

  • Applied April 5th 2022. Still pending review nine months later. First time applicant. Classic government services, guessing those of you that got quick service are the exception.

      • Where did you get your interview? I applied in December 2022, got Conditionally Approved in days (already had Pre-Check, maybe that helped), but scheduling an interview has been impossible. I tried to get one before I left for a trip to Canada, but was told that I could get be interviewed upon reentry. Problem was there was nobody available at the Winnipeg US CBP office to do one. I have called CBP at 877-227-5511 multiple times, including now while on hold. I have received erroneous information and incorrect contact information. I will reach out to my Congressional officials and oversight committee members and sue CBP in federal court and request DOJ to file criminal Wire Fraud charges. CBP told me the process could take two years and they have my $100.

        • You want to sue because there was no one available and you still have not had an appointment 4 months after applying – where they said it can take two years? And you want to sue for Wire Fraud charges?

          And you reached out to Congressional officials?


  • Next week will make 10 months for me since I applied. I haven’t even been conditionally approved yet. I had a security clearance when I applied but I have since retired. I guess a previous government background check isn’t considered. At the time I applied for GE I already had TSA Precheck. I let it expire later because I thought surely I would get GE “soon”. They need to privatize this. Obviously, our government can’t handle it!

  • Applied on 16 April
    Conditionally approved on 18 April
    Interview on 21 April (though that was not immediately available and had to reschedule few times to get it earlier) and approved on the same day.

    No TSA Precheck or Nexus or any other program.

  • Submitted my app Tuesday night, approved Thursday night, and found an available appointment today but wasn’t able to make it so scheduled next Friday. 10 days. Now I did hold a clearance but that was like 20 years ago and since, I’ve taught K12, so I’ve been through background checks, so unsure if these added to the quickness. I also haven’t traveled since pre-pandemic outside the country, I’m in the same job, at the same address… since those were questions, unsure if they make a difference.

    • I think it helps that you are in the same job and address within the last 5 years. Ive been in my job for 14 years and address for 2 years but my address prior to that i lived for 10 years. I also did not travel during pandemic…. Ialso got approved in less than a week

  • I guess i got super lucky!

    Applied :8/6/23
    Conditional approval notification: 8/8/23
    Approval notification: 8/11/23

    *On 8/9/23 booked for earliest appointment i can find close to me in san francisco for 11/16/23 (i live in Orange County)
    *on 8/10/23 i checked for cancellations in LA or open slots and they open a few slots the next day 8/11/23
    *went to interview (less than 10 minutes) took longer to park and approved same day and got an email a couple of hours later that im approved too

  • It’s 4 months today that I applied and have not gotten to conditional yet. Traveling overseas in May, worth it to call or email?

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