Global Entry Program Made Permanent24 Feb 2012
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a final rule that would establish a permanent global entry program (GEP), allowing faster clearance for certain pre-approved, low-risk travelers. This program will help streamline the processing of international visitors to the United States through selected international airports using biometric identification.
Eligibility for the GEP
GEP is currently available to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents as well as Mexican citizens. Citizens of the Netherlands may also apply under a reciprocal agreement, while Canadian citizens may participate if they are members of the NEXUS program. We first informed readers of the NEXUS program in our NewsBrief, NEXUS Program Goes Online (24.Aug.2007).
Basic GEP Travel Process
The basics of the GEP were described to our readers in CBP Global Entry Pilot Program (20.Jun.2008). Travelers approved for membership in the current version of GEP, are able to bypass the normal screening process and queues when entering the United States through certain airports, using a GEP kiosk instead. S/he must insert the passport or lawful permanent resident card (green card) into a document reader, and then must provide digital fingerprints that are compared to fingerprints maintained in U.S. databases. The individual must answer customs declaration questions via touch screen. If approved, s/he is required to present a printed receipt to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer before leaving the inspection area.
Pilot Program Shows Success
GEP has been tested as a pilot program at 20 U.S. international airports and reports reflect a reduction in average waiting times of more than 70 percent. Seventy-five percent of program participants experienced an average wait time of five minutes or less at the CBP inspection areas at these airports.
Final Rule Makes Changes in Program
The final rule, published February 6, 2012, sets forth the federal regulations needed to replace the pilot program with a permanent version of GEP. Under the new regulations, families with children under the age of 18 may also benefit from the program. With the permission of a parent, a child under the age of 18 will be allowed to register for and use GEP. The new regulations will also allow CBP to expand the permanent program to additional U.S. international airports.
Current Program Members to be Transitioned
Individuals who are already registered for GEP will not experience a break in their registration for or eligibility to participate in the permanent version of GEP. These program members will need to renew their registration at the end of five years of total membership in the combined programs.
The Murthy Law Firm acknowledges the difficult task of the DHS and the CBP – implementing, testing, improving, and streamlining this electronic traveler clearance system. Hopefully, the permanent GEP will reduce wait times in more U.S. international airports, and will allow the CBP to focus efforts on travelers with higher-risk profiles.
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