Trust me when I tell you that having one or some of the above is going to make your life so much easier when you are flying, especially to international destinations.
What Do I Do First?
Global Entry: We just talked about the processing times for passports and the delays that area is experiencing. Global Entry is not untouched by this either. Remember my Costa Rica debacle? Well as soon as I was back at my desk, the first thing I did was sign up all 6 of my family members for Global Entry. With Global Entry, it does not matter the age, every person has to have their own, including babies. It is just like having a passport- if you have a passport, you need your own Global Entry.
However, Global Entry processing is severely delayed right now. So back in June 2022, I applied for myself, my husband and my 4 kids. My husband and I were approved right away and set up our appointments for August. My twins- I was able to get them into an appointment for March 2023 once they were both finally approved in October 2022. My older two? Still pending approval.
Not only is the processing for “Conditionally Approved” significantly delayed, but once approved, you still need an appointment for your final interview which seems near impossible to get anymore.
I was speaking with the very nice Immigrations Officer at the Las Vegas Airport where the Global Entry is processed, and asked her about these delays. She explained how it all happens: You complete the application. The application gets pushed to many facilities around the country, and they are sent individually, not as a “family”. So even if you applied as a family, it doesn’t matter, each person is treated as an individual. Based on where your application is sent will determine the amount of time it takes to get “Conditionally Approved”. If one facility is lacking employment, it could take a reaaallllllyyy long time for the application to get through the system.
Don’t worry- you have 2 years from your application date for it to still be considered relevent, and 2-years from your Conditionally Approved status to make an appointment. Hopefully, it doesn’t take that long.
The good news is that once you take your interview, you can use your Global Entry right away (I mean give it like 24-hours to upload into the system, but then you are good to go!)
Global Entry is the number you need in order to by-pass the Customs lines when returning to the USA. There are many restrictions and rules you must follow if you receive Global Entry, and it is no joke. They will take your card and you will not be able to apply again for another 5 years if you do not follow the rules. I have used mine twice now, and it really is lovely to have.
What Do I Do Next?
Since Global Entry is taking so long to turn around approvals, I recommend making sure you have TSA and CLEAR while you wait.
Technically speaking, if you have Global Entry, you do not need TSA as Global Entry will also help you “skip the lines” so to speak at security when traveling domestic as well. Most likely though, it will take you about 6 months to 2 years to obtain your Global Entry. If you are traveling only domestically that time frame, I would also get TSA.
TSA applications are super easy. You can go to TSA.gov, or you can google your nearest Staples and get the job done on your next Target spree or grocery run.
With TSA, you can complete applications for those 13 and over for $75 per person. If you have children under 13, they can go with you through the TSA, but it is encouraged for everyone to have their own. This actually comes in handy if you are waiting for Global Entry for your under 13 year old- they can still travel with you and you do not need to get them their own. Keep in Mind: if your under 13 year old will be flying without you, they will not be able to utilize TSA under another adult.
The double whammy is if you have both TSA and CLEAR. CLEAR basically operates like TSA. You sign up (there are family memberships available), they scan your retinas and fingerprints at the airport, then they walk you to the front of the line. If you have TSA, they walk you to the front of the TSA line. CLEAR is becoming more widely available throughout the US, but different airports allow for different privileges, and not all airports have CLEAR.
BONUS: All three of these services- Global Entry, TSA Pre-check and CLEAR, could be available to you at no cost through one of the major credit cards in your wallet right now. Check to see if any of your cards offer a reimbursement on your fees when you apply.
So you have none of that or you do not have the time to get any of that…what to do next?
The next best thing then would be the Mobile Passport Control App from Afar. Read what Upgraded Points travel site has to say about utilizing this service in lieu of the others.