Small Update on Remote Teleconferencing Interviews for Global Entry

by SharonKurheg

Global Entry began as a pilot program at JFK, Washington-Dulles and Houston-Intercontinental airport back in (wanna feel old?) 2008. The pilot worked well and was expanded to other large airports in 2009. Once it turned into a Pinocchio-esque “real live boy” (instead of just a pilot project), its popularity continued to grow since Global Entry was such a time saver when returning to the U.S. from international locations.

a logo with a star and circlesBecause the program was becoming more and more popular, getting an interview to complete the process before approval (or disapproval) has nearly always been troublesome. And not getting approval for Global Entry also meant that a person’s TSA PreCheck, which you get for free with Global Entry, would also be delayed. In fact, the process to get an interview for Global Entry was something of a hot mess even before the pandemic hit. So, to help combat the backlog, CBP announced a new option in July 2017 to help candidates get their interviews faster: Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival would allow conditionally approved Global Entry applicants to complete their interview while clearing CBP processing at select airports.

Enrollment Upon Arrival helped, but not enough; there was still a backlog, especially in the months after the pandemic, when everyone on their brother wanted to travel internationally and had heard Global Gentry was “the thing” to do. That’s around the time when CBP began allowing those who already had Global Entry to continue to use that status for up to 24 months past its expiration date, while waiting to get an interview slot.

The wait to get an interview still remained. Besides more people than interview slots, some offices were still closed due to the pandemic. Hello, adding insult to injury!

By this time, there were plenty of websites and apps that could help you grab an interview slot. They’re still around and can still help in a pinch…usually for a price, of course.

A solution?

Half the problem for a lot of people was that although they lived in one place, the locations that had more openings for interviews would be several states away. Some travelers have no problem taking a day or two to make flight from, I dunno, San Antonio to Phoenix, and back, to get an interview. But for others, that’s not the most convenient way to get it done…so they’d sit and wait until an appointment opened in San Antonio, or even Austin, months or sometimes years down the pike.

And then CBP FINALLY came up with a solution. In June of 2021, they started a pilot program where some people could do remote interviews via Zoom to satisfy their Global Entry.

a man sitting at a desk with a laptopBut not everyone was eligible. It was only for those who 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.

And it could only be done for a Global Entry renewal, not for an interview to get Global Entry for the first time.

Since then

Since then, the pilot program has been chugging along. I don’t know how many people are generally eligible for the Zoom interviews because it’s only approved for people who require an interview upon renewal (I mean, when I applied for a renewal in December 2022, I sent my application in on a Tuesday and was approved 2 days later, no new interview needed). But, as I said, it’s still chugging.

A small update?

I admittedly don’t check CBP’s website very often because, well, because I won’t need a Global Entry renewal until late 2027 LOL. But a friend asked me a question, so I recently went to the site. And it turned out they DID update the “Remote Interview” page in March 2024.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to report. It’s been over 3 years since the pilot program started and the verbiage on their main page is nearly all word-for-word the same as their press release from when the pilot program first started in June. 2021.

However, there IS a teaching video on the page now. Apparently, the long-delayed Zoom interviews for renewing NEXUS, FAST and SENTRI members will be integrated into the pilot program through a “phased approach.” (Back in ’21, they said it would start in 2022. Yeah, right.)

But that’s about it. I wish I had better news, travel friends. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What to do to get an interview

Frankly, especially for those of you who need a first-time interview, I would suggest utilizing one of those websites or apps that can help you grab an interview slot.

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