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Global Entry Program, Meant To Speed Up Customs Checks At Airports, Bogged Down By Application Process

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A federal program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States is itself seeing long wait times.

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program designed to allow international travelers to bypass long lines at customs.

Global Entry Program, Meant To Speed Up Customs Checks At Airports, Bogged Down By Application Process

Though the program is intended for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify for Global Entry. Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at participating airports. At airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

Frank Falcon with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection San Francisco office said that due to the year-old program's immense popularity, the process is experiencing some delays.

"We have approximately 50,000 people a month applying for this program," Falcon said.

It takes 4-6 weeks after an online application to get an in-person interview. But in reality, the wait time is normally at least two months or more. Falcon said the slowdown is especially challenging in the Bay Area.

"Here in the Bay Area, we have three major airports where people travel international," he said. "There are a lot of businesses here."

The process also includes a detailed background check for each applicant, along with the in-person interview at a customs office. The problem in the Bay Area – the only office is located at SFO.

Global Entry members may also be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program's terms and conditions results in appropriate enforcement action and revocation of the traveler's membership privileges.

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