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Why the need to list all countries visited when renewing Global Entry??

Why the need to list all countries visited when renewing Global Entry??

Old Sep 22, 19, 5:44 pm
  #1  
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Why the need to list all countries visited when renewing Global Entry??

We filled out the renewal for Mrs. Milepig yesterday. It about killed us. Government inefficiency at its worst. Why do we need to list the many countries we’ve visited in the past 5 years? They know. Throw up a list and ask “Is this correct?” We were looking at pictures on our phone and am sure we missed a couple. We changed planes in Warsaw, does that count? Then we timed out and had to start over. Then at the end you need to confirm each page, 9 of them, one by one. Totally painful and unnecessary. They should just call up the records and ask whether it’s all correct. One click and we’d be done. Government red tape at it’s worst.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 2:27 am
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Moderator's Note

Hello @milepig,

Since your question is more about governmental policy than requesting practical information about the Global Entry renewal process, I moved your post to the Policy Debate forum.

To discuss what's considered a visited country, please refer to the following thread:
Global Entry Application Countries Visited [consolidated thread]
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Old Sep 23, 19, 2:46 am
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Originally Posted by milepig View Post
Why do we need to list the many countries we’ve visited in the past 5 years?
CBP wants to know if you have been certain countries to conduct certain unlawful activities.

Originally Posted by milepig View Post
They know.
They don't. Seriously. Multiple nationalities (i.e. different passports) and multiple reservations (i.e. separate tickets) makes CBP difficult to keep track.

Originally Posted by milepig View Post
We changed planes in Warsaw, does that count?
More is better than less.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 7:38 am
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1. This question is on standard government security clearance forms as well. Has been pretty much forever.
2. While CBP (and other agencies) sort of know where one has been, these records are far from accurate. Besides, many of the answers are known, but this is a chance to see whether one tells the truth.
3. Don't play cute. Answer the question truthfully. If one changed aircraft at WAW, list Poland. If the follow up question is, "what did you do in Poland?" the answer is, "we changed planes."

The biggests risks in this process, presuming that one is not a convicted felon or currently a fugitive, are people who overthink and wind up making false statements.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 8:24 am
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How are we going to know every country you stepped foot in?

Also, it's more of a "if you don't list it, and we know about it....gotcha" kind of thing.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 8:36 am
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Since this was a GE renewal, you must've know the question was coming, since it was on your original GE application. It might've been prudent to keep a list as you travelled (I have a word document for this purpose).
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Old Sep 23, 19, 8:53 am
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Originally Posted by swiftaw View Post
Since this was a GE renewal, you must've know the question was coming, since it was on your original GE application. It might've been prudent to keep a list as you travelled (I have a word document for this purpose).
It had been years! The really annoying part was was time out with no warning. Most systems ask “do you need more time? We were double checking the looong list of countries when - boom- now we get to start over.

but I thought all this stuff was in one big global system now.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 9:15 am
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Originally Posted by maninblack View Post
How are we going to know every country you stepped foot in?

Also, it's more of a "if you don't list it, and we know about it....gotcha" kind of thing.
So CBP knows but doesn't know. Class act!
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Old Sep 23, 19, 10:45 am
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It's far from the only question where a government agency may have a record but it is asked anyway. E.g., criminal record.

It's designed to catch those who make false statements and therefore should not be trusted in this "trusted traveler program."
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Old Sep 23, 19, 12:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
It's far from the only question where a government agency may have a record but it is asked anyway. E.g., criminal record.

It's designed to catch those who make false statements and therefore should not be trusted in this "trusted traveler program."

Then the true purpose is an integrity check. Just own it.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 2:22 pm
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They do not know the complete list.

Think about it as others have noted. Passport scans are not required to enter many countries, and many people (such as myself) have multiple passports (I have four, from two different countries and not all are linked) and the government is too inefficient to track them all and the data. And some countries do not stamp US passports regularly upon entry or exit whereas others do electronic scans in system that get shared and verified. PNRs, for the most part, do not list non aviation travel, and POV or other travel is not always linked via the same type of systems air travel uses which get back to CBP.

As I discussed in other threads years ago CBP paid me and others as contractors a few years ago where I got to watch them in action (open source stuff); so from that alone I say trust me, they are as inefficient as they come. Seeing it both from the inside and outside as a user it can be mind boggling. That said it has gotten better over the last 10-12 years. The new GE biometric match is an improvement IMO, for example. As an early, early beta test user of GE since it was just at three US airports, I have seen many changes and not all bring more efficiency, but overall it is still one of the better government programs.

That all said, as others note, defer to caution and list everything even changing planes. Changing planes in IST flags people all the time, for example, so if you do not list Turkey you could be SOL. And yes, as a TRUSTED traveller program, integrity checks are part of the system. Last thing I am is a CBP apologist or cheerleader, but the onus is on the traveller for the forms, and to not make goofy or off-colour comments to the officer in the GE line or what not and complain about the system. There is always MPC or whatnot if one does not want to the more onerous (and not-free) GE checks.
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Old Sep 23, 19, 2:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
Then the true purpose is an integrity check. Just own it.
It should be perfectly clear to you by now that CBP does not necessarily have a complete list.

What you do not know as an applicant is whether there is anything missing and if there is, what is missing.

Telling the truth is not difficult or burdensome.
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Old Sep 24, 19, 12:22 pm
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I realised that when I completed my GE application last year that I forgot to state that I had visited both France and Belgium in the previous 5 years

In my mind I hadn't visited either because in the case of france I merely passed through on the train and in Belgium I changed trains to / from Amsterdam (and I had included Netherlands because I had visited it)

So I went prepared to be asked at the interview to give the expanation and a fulsom apology but it wasn't raised

I now keep a list at the back of my diary of all the countries I've physically stepped foot in just so I can complete the list accuratly when I renew even if to most peoples definitions of 'visited' I havn't actually visited other than move from one part of an airport!


But evenif theformtimes out I thought it still saved what you entered or do you need to activly save it yourself (which is good practice anyway)

Last edited by UKtravelbear; Sep 24, 19 at 12:36 pm
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Old Sep 27, 19, 11:36 am
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Originally Posted by UKtravelbear View Post
I realised that when I completed my GE application last year that I forgot to state that I had visited both France and Belgium in the previous 5 years

In my mind I hadn't visited either because in the case of france I merely passed through on the train and in Belgium I changed trains to / from Amsterdam (and I had included Netherlands because I had visited it)

So I went prepared to be asked at the interview to give the expanation and a fulsom apology but it wasn't raised

I now keep a list at the back of my diary of all the countries I've physically stepped foot in just so I can complete the list accuratly when I renew even if to most peoples definitions of 'visited' I havn't actually visited other than move from one part of an airport!


But evenif theformtimes out I thought it still saved what you entered or do you need to activly save it yourself (which is good practice anyway)
As the OP, I can say that "most of the information you entered is still there when you time out, but at least in our case NOT the "countries visited" screen, I suspect this is because that each screen is saved when you hit "complete" or whatever the word is" and go to the next screen. We hadn't completed entering the countries, so that screen hadn't been saved. Of course, that one was the hardest to complete. It could certainly be helped by replacing the one-by-one selection with a check list that you could check off and then hit enter once, but the form is what it is.

I also now wonder if there's any reason to not replace every single Schengen country with a single "Schengen Countries" box. You can move free among them and as far as I no none of them would flag questions by CBP as a questionable country. It would certainly save a lot of time.

On my first application I actually forgot Canada, and during the interview they did ask "you've not been to Canada?" while looking pointedly at their screen. I almost said "oh, I don't really think of Canada as a foreign country" but caught myself and just said "I guess I forgot that one." and the agent just let it go and approved me.

To close the loop - in the end Mrs. Milepig received her "approval with no interview required" email about 4 days after applying, so we must not have been too far off.
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Old Sep 27, 19, 2:43 pm
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Originally Posted by milepig View Post
On my first application I actually forgot Canada, and during the interview they did ask "you've not been to Canada?" while looking pointedly at their screen. I almost said "oh, I don't really think of Canada as a foreign country" but caught myself and just said "I guess I forgot that one." and the agent just let it go and approved me.

That's not a foul as the application explicitly states to not include Canada and Mexico in your visited list.

My GE renewal interview was all of two questions. "Have you been to Canada?" "Nope." "Have you been to Mexico?" "Yup." And then the updated picture and fingerprints.
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