When a good portion of the “travel”-related arms of the U.S. government shut down last March, they never really caught up. For example, U.S. passport processing offices began reopening in early summer and were 100% (or close to 100%) back up a few months later. Yet as of a few weeks ago, the time to process a passport was still 50% longer than it was in January 2020. In fact, it got so bad for some that Americans can now enter the U.S. with an expired passport!
As bad as passport processing has been, the Global Entry program has had even more problems.
In January 2020, we reported that Global Entry was having some major problems and applicants, “should expect significant delays in application processing times and limited appointment availability at TTP enrollment centers.” Their reasoning for the delay? The government shutdown from the previous year. Anyway, their band-aid fix was to give a 1-year grace period on expiring Global Entry renewals.
(plus on top of overall delays, I’m still not sure how Global Entry ever let something like this happen – and that was BEFORE coronavirus!)
So the Global Entry program, which was barely keeping its head above water before COVID, then had to deal with closed offices for months and months. To apply for, or renew your Global Entry application, you’re usually supposed to schedule an in-person interview with a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. After offices closed down in March, they were supposed to reopen in July 2020, and they then extended it again until they finally reopened in September.
It’s been over half a year since then, and Global Entry is still behind the 8 ball – if you read around, you’ll see that people who have tried to schedule their interviews have a REALLY difficult time making appointments. So CBP’s come up with another fix – and this one actually makes sense!
CBP has announced they’re launching a remote interview pilot for renewing Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) members.
This pilot allows eligible TTP members to complete their enrollment renewal interviews with a CBP Officer through video teleconferencing while ensuring that the remote interview process maintains high security and privacy standards.
To be eligible for the remote interview pilot, TTP members must:
- Be conditionally approved for a TTP renewal;
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Have a photo on file with CBP that was taken (1) within the past 10 years, and (2) after the applicant was 14 years of age; and
- Have previously submitted fingerprints to CBP.
Renewing NEXUS, FAST and SENTRI members will be integrated into the pilot over the next several weeks through a phased approach.
“CBP has readily adapted its operations to secure and facilitate lawful travel throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said William A. Ferrara, Executive Assistant Commissioner of the CBP Office of Field Operations. “The remote interview pilot will add convenience for TTP applicants, while allowing CBP to meet the high demand for membership in Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST.”
You can find more info about the process on this page of CBP’s website.
Feature Photo: cbp.gov
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary