Big news for any Houstonians and some others trying to get Global Entry. Global Entry is now allowing applicants to take care of their “interview” when arriving through immigration at certain airports. This is new feature called “Enrollment on Arrival” is available at both Houston airports IAH and HOU, as well as Austin (AUS) and Vancouver (YVR). It’s also expected to arrive at SFO sometime in the near future.
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program that allows you access to an expedited line through immigration and often customs. It also comes with TSA Pre-Check so you can get through security in a breeze. It costs $100 for five years but you can cover this expense with free credits with certain cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express. Global Entry has saved me a ton of time and there’s no doubt to me that it’s worth it for anyone who frequently or semi-frequently flies internationally.
If you’re interested in Global Entry, I suggest also reading up on other programs that offer expedites access:
What’s so special about Enrollment on Arrival?
This Enrollment on Arrival feature is very good news. The biggest hurdle to Global Entry (aside from clearing the background check for some people), is the interview. In some areas, you have to travel pretty far to get to the interview locations but the bigger issue is that wait times can easily be over a month for many people and often involve an unnecessary run to an airport.
Now, you can take care of this interview without making an appointment when you clear United States Customs and Border Protection or Preclearance.
How does it work?
First, you need to have already applied and been conditionally accepted (which usually takes around a week). After you’ve done that then you can make use of this new system. You can read about how to fill out the application and get conditionally approved here.
When returning to the US and go through Immigration, there will be signs pointing you to where you need to go, which will likely some type of booth with an agent. You’ll need to bring your passport (and I’d also bring my conditional letter of approval just to be safe) and the US CBP officers will complete your “interview” on the spot while also clearing you through Immigration.
I use quotations because when I did my interview in Houston it was a matter of being asked a handful of very simple questions I’d mostly already answered on the application and it all being done within 5 minutes. You can read more about my Global Entry interview experience here.
I see no reason why the interviews would last much longer for this new process although there could always be some hiccups when implementing a new policy like this.
The only question mark I have right now is how long can you wait until after you’ve been conditionally approved to do this? I know that you’re supposed to schedule (not attend) your interview within 30 days of getting conditionally approved, so I wonder how long you have to do Enrollment on Arrival after you’ve been conditionally approved? I”ll update if/when I get that answer.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.