Traveling overseas soon? You should know about the Global Entry backlog

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If you have international travel coming up and were planning to either apply for the Global Entry program or renew your existing membership in order to speed up your re-entry to the U.S., we have some important information.

The Global Entry program — which is the most popular expedited border program, according to the Washington Post — is experiencing significant delays in processing time at the moment, so you’ll need to plan ahead if you want your application processed before your trip.

‘Significant delays’ in processing times for Global Entry program means headaches for travelers

Global Entry is one of four Trusted Traveler Programs offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows for expedited entry back into the United States after you’ve been traveling.

To be accepted into the Global Entry program, you must submit an application, clear a thorough background check involving law enforcement, customs, immigration, agriculture, and terrorist databases and schedule an interview with a Customs agent at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.

Even in normal times, such a thorough process is never going to be quick. But a series of external issues have caused it to slow to a crawl, in many cases. The agency explains on its website:

“The extended partial government shutdown and the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border has resulted in a substantial backlog of CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) applications and renewals.

Applicants for Global Entry…should expect significant delays in application processing times and limited appointment availability at TTP enrollment centers.”

CBP says that application processing for Global Entry can currently take up to 100 days, though a spokesperson told the Post that “between 65 and 70 percent of applications and renewals are being processed in 15 or fewer days” while “about 25 percent of applications have a processing time of more than 90 days.”

Global Entry renewal blues: One member of Team Clark’s experience

While the CBP addresses the wait time for new applications on its website, people applying to renew their Global Entry status are also being affected.

Once you’re approved for Global Entry, your status is good for five years. Team Clark’s Laura has had Global Entry for four-and-a-half years, so she’s coming up on her expiration date at the beginning of January. Knowing that her five year deadline was approaching, she applied for renewal in June.

She’s still waiting:

TSA Status Update

“I’ve been waiting to hear something for more than a month now,” Laura says. “The last time I checked was at the one month mark and it was still in pending/conditional approval status. Once that’s completed, I still have to schedule my interview.”


Still, Laura says she knows she’s not alone in suffering through a Global Entry processing delay.

“I have a friend who recently applied for Global Entry for the first time and it took him two months before he got his conditional approval,” she says.

Laura says CBP has also put more of the onus of the process on the applicant than they did in the past.

“It’s a little bit different this time around than when I first applied. Then, when I was conditionally approved I received an email that I could go ahead and schedule my interview. According to the website, this time around it’s my responsibility to continually check for updates on my account. So, I have to go and log in to check on my status.”

Laura says she’s concerned that her Global Entry may lapse if scheduling an interview takes as long as the conditional approval process.

“I think the first time I had to schedule my interview a few months out. We’ll see what it looks like this time.”

Final thought

The bottom line is that no one can say exactly how long your Global Entry application or renewal is going to take to process. You can apply for renewal beginning one year from your expiration date, so it’s probably a good idea to do that as soon as you can.

If you’re applying for the first time and think you will be traveling out of the country any time soon, go ahead and get your application in now — and cross your fingers that the backlog eases up sooner rather than later.

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