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U.S. Customs and Border Protection this summer plans to launch an international "trusted" traveler program for U.S. citizens who are frequent international travelers. A pilot program is scheduled to begin on 10 June at New York JFK (Terminal 4), Houston Intercontinental and Washington Dulles international airports.
For those who agree to undergo a background check, provide biographical and biometric data (fingerprints), allow themselves to be photographed and pay a $100 nonrefundable fee, the program would provide an expedited process that allows them to "bypass the regular passport control line." CBP plans to add more airports to the program after assessing the initial results of the pilot.
Recommended in a report issued in January by the U.S. government-appointed Secure Borders and Open Doors Committee, the "Global Entry" program (also referred to as International Registered Traveler) follows development of a U.S. domestic registered traveler program, which, after a slow start, has gained some momentum. A unit of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CBP will work with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration "to develop a DHS-wide approach to registered traveler programs," and also envisions reciprocal agreements with other countries.
Upon arriving at a participating airport's federal inspection area from another country, Global Entry enrollees would use dedicated kiosks, where they would insert their passport (a machine-readable one is required), scan their fingerprints, answer standard U.S. entry questions and be photographed. The kiosk will produce a receipt that would be presented to a CBP officer at an exit point.
All enrollees still would be subject to "random" secondary examinations.
Meanwhile, if program participants are carrying a certain amount of commercial merchandise, more than $10,000 or restricted items, they would be directed "to the head of the line" at the nearest open passport control station.
CBP on 12 May will begin accepting applications from U.S. citizens, nationals and lawful permanent residents online at www.cbp.gov. Interested travelers would submit name, date of birth, address, citizenship, proof of citizenship and residency information, which would be used for "rigorous" background checks (and "may be shared with other law enforcement and government agencies in the United States in accordance with applicable laws for the purpose of assessing your application"). Payable online, the nonrefundable application fee is $100. Unlike the TSA registered traveler program, CBP's Global Entry pilot at launch won't use private sector companies to administer the program.
After CBP reviews and approves an application (those denied can seek redress), the applicant would be interviewed by CBP officers at one of the first three participating airports (with more locations added as the program expands). During that interview, applicants would provide fingerprints and be photographed. CBP also will "continue to conduct periodic checks for all enrolled members ... to ensure that CBP can quickly take action should new information be made available that would disqualify the participant."
The Global Entry pilot likely would run "at least six months." During that time, CBP will evaluate the popularity of the program, usability and reliability of kiosks, average time for a participant to complete the process and other metrics.
CBP, which said the program would allow its officers to "concentrate their efforts on potentially higher-risk travelers," is accepting public comments. The National Business Travel Association applauded the development and said, "We hope to see Global Entry at every major U.S. international airport by the end of next year."
Moving forward, DHS plans to link Global Entry with CBP's other "trusted traveler" programs, including the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection program (for border crossings from Mexico) and the Nexus program (for border crossings from Canada), as well as TSA's domestic registered traveler program.
"For example, with the permission of the applicant, TSA and CBP might share biographic and biometric enrollment information to allow individuals to join both [the domestic and international registered traveler] programs with a single application," according to CBP information. "In the meantime, [domestic] RT members will need to join Global Entry separately."
Meanwhile, CBP is working with other countries to build connections to "comparable programs" to provide participating travelers with reciprocal access and benefits. Airport officials in such cities as Amsterdam, Paris, Jakarta and London have implemented or are considering biometric-based registered traveler programs.
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