Home Travel CBP Piloting Remote Interviews For Trusted Traveler Programs

CBP Piloting Remote Interviews For Trusted Traveler Programs

by SharonKurheg

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

6 comments

Sammy June 3, 2021 - 3:01 pm

Global Entry for me and the wife was successfully renewed in the last six months without any interview.

Reply
SharonKurheg June 3, 2021 - 3:25 pm

So did Joe and I, a while back. However some people require an interview.For those that do…;-)

Reply
efjx June 3, 2021 - 4:02 pm

interestingly enough the grace period is now through December 2022 for my son who was set to expire of Dec 2020. They must be really behind.
I also tried looking at the remote option for myself, but there were no spots yet as of last night.

Reply
Leighton J Cavendish July 11, 2021 - 10:09 pm

Pilot program…not available at all centers…not sure why they need to do a remote interview at all. Either approve it without any interview or require the interview. Why this intermediate step.
It is going to complicate the process at enrollment centers. What takes precedence…in-person or Zoom? What happens when an in-person takes 30 minutes because they have past criminal history to hash out and then cancels the Zoom interview that was scheduled?
Maybe they need centers that do ONLY Zoom interviews…and some that do ONLY in-person.
Anyway…you normally have a YEAR to get in for an interview and get things completed once you reach “conditionally approved” status…whether as a new applicant or renewing. There is ALSO the “enrollment on arrival” option if you are returning from an international trip and arriving at one of about 60 designated airports.
If you can’t find an appointment (check often for cancellations, too) or get it done on arrival in a year….(two years at the present time)…then maybe the program is not right for you.
Might want to consider TSA pre-check for domestic travel and the Mobile Passport app as well.
So many people get the program instead of TSA pre-check ONLY because it is a better deal ($100 PER 5 YEARS (GE + pre-check) VS $85 PER 5 YEARS (pre-check only)). This then clogs/backs up the Global Entry system (application and appointments) with many applicants that have no real need for the international component.
Many applicants do NO research about the programs and are lost when it comes to renewing in 4-5 years.
Some enrollment centers try to give applicants information about the program…some basically just take photos and fingerprints like an assembly line…leaving applicants to fend for themselves…leading to varying outcomes, to say the least.

Reply
Walt Boulden September 8, 2021 - 9:35 pm

I am renewing for the second time and the virtual renewal option is not there. I have written the CBP and requested a virtual interview instead of the one I have scheduled in January in Atlanta. I can’t believe they are so far behind. I don’t want to cancel and then find out I can’t do a virtual. They tell me I am conditionally approved awaiting interview. As far as the interview upon arrival, I came into Dulles in June and the BCP officer didn’t know what I was talking about even though I showed him the email I had received for CBP. Oh well they say I have 720 days to renew so hopefully things will get straightened out. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Reply
SharonKurheg September 8, 2021 - 10:30 pm

Wish I could give you some advice, but we don’t have any sort of insider information…just what we’ve heard here and there. Sorry and good luck!

Reply

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