Friday, May 24, 2013

Global Entry Interview

When you travel in/out of the country often, it may make sense to apply for Global Entry to speed your way through U.S. Immigration when you return home.

For those of you who don't know what Global Entry is, it's basically a VIP Fast Track through Immigration for those individuals whom the U.S. government has already done a thorough background check on and have deemed as "safe."

Sometimes, we've been stuck in some pretty long U.S. immigration lines even for American citizens (over an hour with no bathroom/baby changing options). I'm looking at you, LAX! So when our American Express Platinum card had a feature to reimburse you for your $100 application fee, I made my parents sign up.

Now, my father was originally hesitant about getting Global Entry. Not because he had anything to hide, but because there'd be no point in him getting through Immigration quickly when my Israeli citizen mother would still have to wait in line. However, I did my internet research and found out that U.S. greencard holders can also apply, so we were in luck!

Then my father responded to me, "What's the point of your mother and I getting Global Entry, when you (Baby Songer) won't have it?" Well, apparently, the U.S. government thought about this scenario as well because infants/children are welcome to apply for GE.

The steps are simple.
  1. Apply online and fill out a question form.
  2. Schedule an in-person interview with an immigration officer.
  3. Get approved.
So to apply, we had to go to and create a log in username and password for each of us. Then we had to fill out an online form asking us general background questions like name, contact information, passport information, current address, past addresses, and other yes/no questions about our past. The best part was the section where you had to list all the foreign countries you've visited in the past 5 years. As you can imagine, my family had quite a long list.

Next, you pay $100 per person for the non-refundable application fee. However, if you have an American Express Platinum card and use it to pay, then Amex will reimburse you the $100 GE charge within just a few days. Great customer service!

Then you hit submit after you've double checked all your responses, your application is submitted for review. But before you hit Submit, I HIGHLY recommend that you print out your application first. That way, you will have all your responses handy to study/remember, because I read that most of the GE interviews will be basically the same questions on the form or some derivative of it, such as "Why did you visit Laos in 2008?"

Then you wait.

About a week or so later, we each received an email stating that our applications been reviewed and we are allowed to sign up for an interview with a Customs & Border Patrol officer either at an international airport or select administrative offices in major cities.

We could have selected the office in downtown Manhattan, but since we were going to fly out of JFK Airport for our European trip anyway, we just decided to schedule our 3 interviews for 2PM (a few hours before our scheduled departure tonight at 5:40PM).

The interview took place in JFK's Terminal 4 Arrivals right by the entrance/exit. We walked into the small office and sat in the waiting room. They didn't have any check in system so people were called in randomly, and you had to police yourself in terms of who came first and who had a scheduled appointment. But no one was overly aggressive, so it worked itself out quite nicely.

I can't speak to my mother's interview, but mine was pretty simple. The CBP officer took my U.S. Passport and typed in a few keystrokes. Then I had to put my four fingers onto the pad to get scanned. Unfortunately, my fingers were too small to have the fingerprints read by the computer. So I guess the FBI won't be running any fingerprint checks on me until I'm a few years older.

But the CBP officer saw that I was an honest and trustworthy baby, so he approved me without the fingerprint verification. Now I have Global Entry status and can skip the Immigration lines whenever we come back to the US from abroad. But when we get to the Global Entry kiosk, my passport scan will be rejected, and I'll have to explain the situation to the Global Entry officer standing by. I'll put on my cutest little smile and let my father talk his way through it.

Let's hope he does better now than he did for his Princeton undergraduate interview.


  1. My lap child just had a Global Entry interview and the agent had trouble getting past the fingerprints. For the benefit of future people who search "Global Entry" "infant" and "fingerprints," do you remember what your agent did? Did he select the option for prints not readable or limbs missing? Did he do the same option for all 3 scans (right hand, left hand, two thumbs)? Or did he just submit for approval without clicking any of those buttons? Just wondering. We were told we were okay, but our lap child could not be approved right then and there. The agent had to contact the supervisors/higher-ups.

  2. Our agent just selected "not readable" for all the fingers after trying and failing. He told us that we'll get a reject ticket each time at the Global Entry Kiosk, but that we'll just take that ticket to the regular customs agent (skipping whoever's waiting) and he will clear us. In the multiple times we've come back into the US, we've done this process and it's not much more time (since we're able to just cut the line).

    When the fingers become more developed, then we can come back and re-scan them.