Enrollment on Arrival: Getting Global Entry without the interview


Having trouble getting a Global Entry interview slot before your next international trip? For passengers arriving at four US border checkpoints that interview is now possible while clearing inbound immigration; no appointment required. The new program named “Enrollment on Arrival” is now live at five airports:

  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Applicants must still apply for the program and pay the fee for such (insert link here for various CCs that would reimburse that fee) in advance of travel. In some cases the pre-approval is quick; in others it takes a bit of time. And the application volume continues to increase according to US CBP, part of the reason the organization is altering the process to handle more travelers without the strict interview process. Additional airports are expected to be added to the program in coming months.

“Global Entry continues to be one of CBP’s most successful and popular programs with application volume steadily increasing over the past several years,” said Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan in a statement. “With Enrollment on Arrival, we are adapting and innovating our process to meet the program’s demands by providing flexibility and additional options for travelers who need to complete their Global Entry interview.”

Travelers using the Enrollment on Arrival program will be interviewed by an officer for entry to the USA and also for Global Entry approval in the same transaction. Once admitted that traveler will also be a Global Entry Member.

This is especially useful for the many foreign nationals now able to join the program. Travelers from  Argentina, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are all eligible for Global Entry enrollment. Trying to time an interview slot with a trip to the USA could be incredibly frustrating for these visitors.

The interview process always seemed rather silly to me anyways. It mostly involved sitting in a lobby watching a video on loop about how to use the kiosk, followed by submitting fingerprints. Maybe there was some additional validation/verification/screening involved but it didn’t seem that way to me. Getting to include that as part of the arrival process allows CBP to improve passenger flow through immigration in general – theoretically one fewer agent dedicated to work away from the main entry area – and for GE applicants as they can skip the pain of scheduling an interview and the extra trip to the airport associated with such.

Everyone wins.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

15 Comments

  1. I never got around to getting Global Entry, but lately I’ve just been using the Mobile Passport app on my phone. I scanned in all of my family’s passports, and when my flight touches down, I just login and answer a couple of questions and I sail right through. They even let me use the Global Entry lane. I just flash the app when I get on the line and they usher my right through to the next agent. Not sure if this is the way it’s supposed to be, but I feel like I have all the benefits of Global Entry without the fee.

    1. Mobile Passport App is spectacular but not quite the same experience. Particularly exiting baggage claim there is a dedicated GE lane that MPA users are not supposed to have access to. Depending on the airport and crowds that can be a mess. Also, GE comes with PreCheck so if flying a lot domestically that’s a really, really nice benefit to consider.

      I cleared US immigration 10 or so times already this year. The line to do so without GE, even with the app, would’ve been bad on only a handful of them. But at $20/year my per-use cost is spectacularly low, even not considering nearly guaranteed PreCheck.

      And if you can get a CC to cover the costs then all the better. Though admittedly I don’t have to pay a family of four’s costs; just the two of us.

      1. Thanks Seth. All good points. My CC does cover it I think so I should probably just stop being lazy and schedule the interview, or even better, next time I’m passing through one of the airport you list just do it on the spot. Good info!

  2. Can I do my GE renewal interview this way? SFO is so overbooked the earliest appointment I can get is in January 2018 currently. ?

    1. I processed my renewal online. No interview needed.

      “Upon renewal, you may be required to interview again. This is determined by the vetting center…”

    2. If your renewal requires an interview (like dayone, mine did not) I assume it would work. No harm in trying IMO. Worst they can do is send you to the regular GE line if it is not yet expired or to the other line if it is but odds are you won’t waste enough time that it is not worth the effort to try.

  3. I’m assuming you ment to insert a link, Second paragraph, first sentence: “Applicants must still apply for the program and pay the fee for such (insert link here for various CCs that would reimburse that fee) in advance of travel.”

    1. Ha!

      Nope…no link actually intended there. A subtle jab at those who are convinced the only reason to write about useful industry news is to find a way to sell credit cards. Too much of that out there these days and every now and then I poke a little fun. 🙂

  4. Has anyone had experience with this program yet? I am conditionally approved and am going to Vancouver soon which is one of the 5 airports running this program. Would I go through the process when I first land there or would it be on my return trip?

    1. When you clear immigration at YVR into the USA you go to the designated lane for GE enrollment/interviews.

  5. Hi Seth! Our Initial Enrollment was Conditionally Approved by Aug 9, 2017 and we (from Germany) were informed that we must schedule our Global Entry Interview within 30 (!) days of the date of this letter. Unfortunately we do not find any information on the CBP site how we can manage to complete the enrollment interview during CBP primary inspection upon our arrival (Oct 26, 2017 SFO) in order to be directed to a primary booth designated specifically for Enrollment on Arrival. Can you please tell us what we can do in order to keep the deadline and to join the Enrollment on Arrival program? Thank you very much in advance. Barbara

    1. With the new “on arrival” program you do not schedule an appointment. Just show up and get processed.

      The challenge in your case is the 30-day window. I don’t recall that being a thing for my approval in the past so I’m not sure if it is a foreign citizen thing, something new to GE or confusion in the wording. I’m afraid you’ll need to reach out to CBP to clarify the 30-day cut off and try to get that extended for the October arrival.

      Once you do arrive in October just go to the GE line area and the marked lane should be obvious. If it is not there are always agents milling about who can help guide you.

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