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Renewing Global Entry Has Never Been More Frustrating

Renewing Global Entry Has Never Been More Frustrating
Jeff Edwards

Receiving approval for a new membership (or a renewal) in the Global Entry Program for Trusted Travelers has never been more frustrating. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has even taken the unprecedented move of extending the expiration date of existing Global Entry memberships by a full year. The reasons for the backlog are surprisingly complicated.

Long delays for those applying to or renewing membership in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Entry Program for Trusted Travelers are now so commonplace that the increasingly drawn-out process has become something of a running joke among frequent flyers. One FlyerTalk member who shared concerns about allegedly being questioned by CBP agents prior to a domestic flight at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) quipped that the possibility of turning the unorthodox interaction with law enforcement into an advantage was briefly considered solely out of desperation.

“Last time they pulled the guy in front of me (if they picked me I was gonna joke about finally getting my global entry interview), but this time I was picked and asked quite a few questions like I just came back in the country,” the FlyerTalker recounted in his controversial post.

It turns out frustrations over the backlog in Global Entry applications are also shared by thousands of this frequent flyer’s fellow travelers. This summer, the CBP took the unusual step of extending the expiration date for Trusted Travelers who have already applied for Global Entry renewal but have not yet been approved. For those travelers, memberships will remain valid for 12 months after the current expiration date.

“We have accommodated to various situations that have included the ripple effect of the partial government shutdown, the response to the southwest border and the high volume of GE (Global Entry) members seeking to renew (those who initially applied in 2014 and 2015),” a CBP spokesperson told the SFGate in September. “The one-year extension of GE benefits for those seeking to renew their GE memberships is helping to mitigate this situation, provided that the renewal application is submitted before the GE membership expires.”

The agency says it has suffered what amounts to a perfect storm where it comes to processing Global Entry applications and renewals. In addition to reasons listed, the program’s popularity continues to skyrocket (meaning the CBP’s workload is only increasing).

The rush to join the Global Entry program in the early days of the program is, in many ways, being revisited today. Most of the very first travelers to join Global Entry are now faced with renewing expiring memberships. Some of those renewals and all new applications require that the travelers be interviewed in person.

Lately, this has been much easier said than done.

Earlier this year, citing “a dire immigration crisis that requires swift and decisive action to confront illegal and uncontrolled migration threatening our safety and security,” then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen has ordered the federal agencies under her charge, including the CBP and the TSA, to re-deploy resources to the Southern U.S. border with Mexico. The Los Angeles Times reports that this has left far fewer resources for processing Global Entry applications. In fact, the newspaper notes that Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Global Entry office was shuttered indefinitely as agents were reassigned to the Southern border.

The partial federal government shutdown of 2018-2019 also created a backlog in processing Global Entry applications for obvious reasons. Believe it or not, the CBP says that it has not entirely recovered from the time lost during the most recent shutdown and resulting work stoppage.

There is no need to fret, however. In addition to an extra 12-month grace period on some expiring Global Entry memberships, there are a few tried and true tactics to help speed the process along. Here are some tips on getting a faster Global Entry interview appointment. In some cases, the advice includes heading out of town in order to help fast track the schedule.

How has your luck been when it comes to renewing or applying to the Global Entry Trusted Traveler program? The world’s largest community of expert flyers is offering a shoulder to cry on along with the best advice for making the process as tear-free as possible in the Trusted Travelers forums.


[Image: Shutterstock/Evgenia Parajanian]

View Comments (33)


  1. In2ishn

    October 12, 2019 at 11:45 am

    150 days and counting for a renewal request to even be reviewed. Last year when I did mine it took 2 days and no interview. Is the 12 month extension automatic or do we need to get some sort of proof of extension?

  2. Pludester

    October 12, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    I got lucky I guess–entire process took maybe 5 weeks. Even a new card & no new photo needed. Easy!

  3. jerseytom

    October 12, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    To be fair, it seems like the vast majority of long process times are from folks who applied in April and May. Since then, not so bad. Took a few weeks for me to find an opening at the nearest airport, but otherwise not too terrible a process.

  4. KRSW

    October 12, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    I renewed mine earlier this year. It took less than 10 days, no muss, no fuss. Did everything online. No problem. Likewise for my passport, which I did as normal priority. Even with it being during the government shutdown, in less than 2 weeks my new passport was in my hands.

  5. fotographer

    October 13, 2019 at 12:58 am

    applied for renewal in August of this year.. still waiting, but with the year extension… I am ok with that

  6. thebigben

    October 13, 2019 at 6:28 am

    I’ve applied in March, still waiting. Oh well :)

  7. waingro

    October 13, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Seems random. Mine was renewed within 3 business days last week despite recent travels to Russia.

  8. SeatOfMyPants

    October 13, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    My husband and I just renewed separately last month. Took a couple of weeks to receive our new cards in the mail.

  9. MilesorBust

    October 14, 2019 at 7:58 am

    My wife and I just renewed our Global Entry subscriptions. Less than 10 minutes on the website, confirmation in two days, and new cards received in a week. We had no problems.

  10. emkn45

    October 14, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Submitted renewal in April 2019 and haven’t heard back yet

  11. phaka2

    October 14, 2019 at 11:47 am

    SeatOfMyPants and MilesorBust – How is that possible? No interview was needed? I have been waiting since May for conditional approval which finally came last week. Now I’m checking nearby locations for and cancellations that may show up for interview slots – otherwise it’s february 2020!

  12. MilesorBust

    October 14, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Ours were both renewals. An interview was not required.

  13. SeatOfMyPants

    October 14, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    phaka2, Do people renewing get called at random for interviews? Never heard about it and the photo they used on the new card. was from our initial interview years back.

  14. rylan

    October 15, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Applied back in April, got conditional approval end of August. Can’t get interview time slot… BOS Logan shows ZERO availability regardless of date. What a horrible useless program. Typical example of big government.

  15. notmypetunia

    October 15, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Mine was an on-line renewal (Aug/Sept timeframe), no major changes or modifications. New card in hand in about a month’s time.

  16. flying_geek

    October 16, 2019 at 12:45 am

    it took a while to get the conditional approval (but still about two months before the old one expired) – when I looked for an interview appointment (MIA airport) – the next day would have been possible, but I went for a better time 3 days later since it better fit my schedule. The “interview” was really just a new pic and maybe a finger scan – no actual questions and I was back out within the grace period of the parking garage. Rather painless

  17. Beachsand

    October 16, 2019 at 4:10 am

    Renewed NEXUS (equivalent to Global Entry) online in March. Easy and fast.

  18. Taggsflyer

    October 16, 2019 at 4:17 am

    Another frustration… wanting to apply for GE from the UK. First, have to pay £140 for a UK Home Office vetting, then arrange for an interview at one of the GE centers… the nearest is New York! Wot?!

  19. PapaJack

    October 16, 2019 at 4:24 am

    I applied back in May, my current one expired in Sept. I came thru Global Entry soon after with no issues, although I had reached out before and had a printout of the fact that they would accept me coming back in on an expired one. The irony is that when you are being processed by the machine it reminds you that your GE has expired. I just checked now and it is still pending. So annoying that the government brings in a program and then can’t manage it. Oh wait, that’s the norm .

  20. cpblanco

    October 16, 2019 at 4:48 am

    I renewed all of our family’s Global Entry online. Two weeks later we had the cards, same picture as before.

  21. Kathleen541

    October 16, 2019 at 4:49 am

    If you need a fast interview Anchorage airport. I got my interview in two days. Currently next available appt is less than a week away.
    Nice guy actually interviewed my husband and I together. Had a really nice visit.

  22. Batman's brother

    October 16, 2019 at 5:03 am

    My GE RENEWAL interview in Houston was kinda goofy. The agent seemed very interested in my job taking me to the middle east in ’91. Also the fact that I wasn’t born in the US. Seriously? The equivalent of a mall cop thought he had caught a mole terrorist and was going to ask me 20 questions.

  23. ABH

    October 16, 2019 at 5:08 am

    I applied in May for renewal and just re’cd my conditional approval. I did get a separate email lettering me know that if I am entering the US from abroad, I can do the interview at selected US int’l airports without an advance appointment. See link below.

  24. benthere2

    October 16, 2019 at 5:11 am

    Awful. The online renewal confirmation didn’t take long but they’re requiring another interview, and the only interview offices in my state or nearby states aren’t taking appointments. So I’m left with either flying to one of the few places I can schedule an interview, or trying to set up an itinerary to have the interview on re-entry from a foreign trip at an airport I wouldn’t normally fly through. Who knows how long the wait will be as a walk-in on that return trip. I’m as low risk as it’s possible to be, so requiring an interview for renewal is totally absurd.

    “Repblicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, then they get elected and prove it.” – P.J. O’Rourke

  25. jdmacht

    October 16, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Got my initial interview leaving Toronto this weekend upon exiting Toronto via customs. It was simple and took about 15 mins to get prints and photo and answer basic confirming into in app questions. Otherwise would have had to wait to end of January for first available So Cal infterivew.

  26. CEB

    October 16, 2019 at 6:02 am

    Sorry for your pain rylan, but your personal experience does not make it a ‘horrible useless program.’ In fact, the program is and continues to be a great success.

    My wife and I both applied for renewal earlier this summer (May for me, July for her). Mine came through over the weekend after applying on Thursday, my wife’s took about two weeks. No interview requirement for me, but my wife had to schedule an interview, hit Seattle while there visiting friends about three weeks later. No new cards and we have had three international trips since then with no issues whatsoever.

    Clearly renewal experiences vary and it is also obvious that new applications are severely backlogged, but once you use the program it is extremely convenient. Now if the airlines could just get the bags out in a more timely manner the value would multiply tenfold!!

  27. rbAA

    October 16, 2019 at 6:18 am

    My Global Entry expired last November, unknown to me at the time. Did a quick online renewal, but even though the email reply said to do the final interview the next time I was entering the country, well, the government was shut down, you know, your government hardly working, so I had to wait until the March trip. All good.

  28. gayste


    October 16, 2019 at 7:15 am

    I renewed in May, got conditional approval in September. No appointments anywhere nearby D.C. Luckily I had an international flight last week. Went to “Enrollment on Arrival” and, although chaotic, (stand here, no stand, there, no, go over there, etc.). The interview only took a few minutes and I got a new card two days later.

  29. danbrew

    October 16, 2019 at 7:18 am

    Renewed only in May 2019. Still marked as “pending” as of this morning (10/16/19). Expires in March 2020. Have a reminder on my calendar to check it every Friday. :(

  30. Reetmafreen

    October 16, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Submitted my renewal application on Friday and got the approval notification 5 days later. I had waited until my new Green Card came in before submitting the GE renewal.

    The Green Card renewal was a different kettle of fish. You can’t apply for a renewal until you are within 6 months of the expiration date of the current card. The trouble is that renewals are taking between 10 and 12 months.

    I lost the ability to use the GE lanes after the original Green Card expired (there was a non machine readable 1 year extension sticker on the back of the card to allow travel) as the GE machine verifies my identity/eligibility via the Green Card, rather than on my passport. Though I was surprised that I could use the expired Green Card at SAN last month coming back into the country. There were new style GE machines near the JAL/AC gates, so perhaps they were programed differently from the older ones at LAX and CLT.

  31. waylo

    October 16, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    The forums here clearly describe a dichotomy of experiences. If you are very fortunate, an application can be approved within a week. The less fortunate, for whatever mysterious reason, are waiting >140 days. This is for both new applications and renewals.

    I applied for my infant child who obviously has no occupation or criminal record 2 months ago, and have not heard back yet. Both of us parents were approved 3 years ago.

  32. dobdobdo

    October 20, 2019 at 7:37 am

    Maybe they’ve cleaned things up. After reading this article and comments, I applied for GE renewal last week with an online application. I received approval (without interview or anything additional) in six days.

  33. adventures_await

    December 6, 2019 at 9:31 am

    When my wife tried to schedule an interview at SFO there is nothing until 2021. They is correct 2021! The closet alternative office for the interview is LAX which is not an option. What is going on at SFO?

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