A month or so ago my husband decided to apply for Global Entry, which would make reentering after his business trips abroad easier, faster and less stressful. Global Entry is a U.S. government program that allows for expedited service for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States, and it is $100 for 5 years (although some credit cards, like Amex Platinum, and Delta platinum and diamond medallion members can choose it as a benefit).
So, I thought about it, and decided it was worth the $300 to apply for global entry for myself and F and L. Often when we return from traveling overseas it is late and they are tired, and waiting in line at passport control, even when relatively short, can test even the best of tempers. And if a parent has global entry they can not take their child through without their own global entry as well, so we couldn’t let my husband get through more quickly than we could!
The program is open to U.S. citizens and lawful residents, Dutch citizens, South Korean citizens and Mexican nationals. Canadian citizens and residents can obtain Global Entry benefits through membership in the NEXUS program. It is also open to children under 18 with the consent of a parent or legal guardian. While you need both parents permission to obtain a passport for a minor you only need one parent/legal guardian to attend the GOES interview. The process was infinitely easier than applying for a child’s passport.
The first step is applying online, creating an online id for each member of the family, and each member of the family must apply separately, so when you apply for your children it is best to apply for yourself first, followed up with each child. I found that I had to log off after each person, and reload the site, which may have been a quirk that day or a quirk in the site all the time.
The online application is simple, and will ask for basic information, including your name, email, address; prior addresses for the last 10 years; names used in the past; height and eye color; date and place of birth; passport number and date of issue and expiration; current employment status and employment history; and a list of the foreign countries you have visited in the last 5 years. It was not a problem that I used my email address for all 3 applications. You will also have to pay the $100 application fee to submit the application.
Once the applications are done you will receive an email with a conditional approval, at which time you can log back in to your account and schedule your appointment at a global entry enrollment center. We have two near us, and chose the one at the airport, and I looked at the calendar to find a date that had 3 times in a row, and quickly booked all 3 of us in succession. You will have to log in as each person to book the individual times, so don’t book any of them until you get all 3 of your conditional approval emails. Ours came within a day or two, and came within a few hours of each other.
They require you to bring a few things to your interview – your passport, your approval letter (which is printed off their secure site), and proof of current address, which can be a drivers license, mortgage statement, etc.
When we arrived I signed in, handed all 3 of our passports over, and we were called back very quickly. I was told to sit down, and had F and L sit on the floor next to me, although a different agent came over and took L with her to the next cubicle to take her photo and fingerprints. I could hear their conversation and she was very good with her, which was good because I was unsure how my feisty 3 year old would do!
I was asked exactly one question – my job, had my photo taken, then had to do my fingerprints, which took longer than I expected since my fingerprints are apparently not very good. I had to sign a form stating that I had never been convicted of a crime, but they never asked anything about either child. They did F next, and told me they have a hard time with children’s fingerprints sometimes, but had no issue with either of my kids. I asked if they needed to see my license or the printed out letter and was told no to both (but I would bring them to be on the safe side). He explained how to use the kiosks and that was it!
Within 10 minutes all 3 of us were done, we walked out of there, and by the end of the day we had received our approvals. Next step is receiving our cards, which then have to be activated on their GOES site as well. We will be using the kiosks in January upon our return from Prague and the UK, so we will see if it was worth the time and money!