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U.S. Customs extended grace period for 350,000 backlogged Global Entry applications

Global Entry
Global Entry speeds a traveler’s way through U.S. Customs, but the program has proved so popular that some renewing applicants have experienced delays receiving approval. 
(Getty Images)

If you’re fretting about how long it’s taking to get your Global Entry renewal, take a breath. If you’ve submitted your application and its status continues to say “pending,” your privileges will last a year beyond the original expiration date.

The program, which gives approved applicants expedited re-entry through U.S. Customs and through airport security screenings, has proved popular and is receiving as many as 7,000 applications a day, Customs and Border Protection said.

The backlog, which CBP said earlier this year totaled 300,000 applications, is now up to 350,000, CBP said.

If you submitted your renewal before the expiration date and it still has not been approved, CBP has granted a year of extra time in which you may continue to use the benefits of the program.

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The approval process was slowed in the summer when CBP personnel were dispatched to the U.S. border with Mexico to address what the agency called a “humanitarian” and “security” crisis. The LAX office that handles interviews closed June 23. That left the Long Beach office, which is open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, as the only L.A.-area office.

As a result, those who were summoned for an interview found wait times of as much as four months before the first available appointment. Some desperate travelers drove to other CBP offices in such places as Calexico, Calif., about 230 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, or Otay Mesa in San Diego, about 145 miles south of downtown L.A., to complete the interview process. Others were able to finish their application process upon return from a flight abroad.

The Los Angeles office at 11099 S. La Cienega Blvd. reopened in late October but is not yet fully up to its previous operational capacity, CBP said, as it continues to reintegrate staff after their absence; CBP could not say when it would be back to preshutdown levels. That office is open 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for what CBP called “limited appointments.”

The program, which costs $100 for five years, has two components: Global Entry is designed to speed your way through Customs upon your return to the United States. Customers check in at a kiosk, complete a questionnaire, have their fingerprints scanned, then are directed to baggage claim and the exit.

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PreCheck, a program of the Transportation Security Administration, lets approved travelers go through security screening without removing their shoes, belt or light jackets or taking their liquids (3.4 ounces or less) or laptops out of their bags. It is available separately through TSA for $85 for five years.

An alternative to Global Entry — but only for Customs entry — is free and available by app. It’s called Mobile Passport and it also expedites you through Customs. It does not involve an interview process. Waiting times are minimal, CBP said of the Mobile Passport, which it called an “underutilized” option.

Mobile Passport recently announced it would begin helping travelers with passport renewal, including urgent requests for new documents.


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