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Shorter lines at U.S. airports are now available to certain British citizens.  On August 9, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) expanded eligibility for participation in its Global Entry program to citizens of the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea and Qatar. 

Global Entry is one of several “trusted traveler” programs created by CBP to facilitate the inspection and admission of low risk persons crossing the international border at U.S. air, land and sea ports.  Individuals registered in Global Entry can by-pass the long lines of applicants for admission at international airports.  Instead, such individuals proceed to an electronic kiosk where they swipe their passport, electronically answer customs declaration questions and, at Houston Intercontinental Airport, are free to go.  Passengers with checked bags proceed directly to the retrieval area then exit through a dedicated, and shorter, exit line. 

Eligibility for participation in Global Entry previously was limited to U.S. citizens and Permanent Resident Aliens along with citizens of The Netherlands and Mexico.  At this time, only British citizens who travel frequently into the U.S. may be given a special registration code by the U.S. Embassy in London when applying for a visa, by CBP upon arriving in the U.S., or by British air carriers with flights to the U.S.  Once the organizational infrastructure is fully developed, any British citizen may apply to enroll in Global Entry. 

To enroll in Global Entry, individuals must submit an application on-line through a dedicated CBP web site found at https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes.  The application requests detailed biographical information.  Information provided will be used to conduct a thorough background check.  Individuals with previous U.S. immigration violations and those who previously violated criminal laws in any country will not be eligible to participate in Global Entry.  A comprehensive discussion of program criteria may be found at http://www.globalentry.gov.  After filing an application on-line, individuals are invited to schedule an interview with CBP prior to completing the enrollment process. 

At present, CBP reports a wait of two to three months from the date of filing a Global Entry application until and interview can be scheduled.  The waiting period has spiked higher in the recent past when CBP conducted promotional campaigns for the Global Entry program.  Similar increases in waiting time may now be experienced since CBP expanded the program to a significant number of potential applicants. 

Frequent air travelers should enroll in Global Entry regardless of whether they regularly cross the U.S. border.  In addition to having access to expedited admission procedures at international ports of entry, persons registered in Global Entry also are eligible to utilize the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program for expedited security screening prior to boarding domestic flights. 

U.S. citizens who participate in Global Entry or U.S. citizens who are registered in other trusted traveler programs, such as NEXUS or SENTRI, will have the option to apply for participation in the United Kingdom's trusted traveler program, once one is established.  An announcement will be made on CBP's web site at http://www.globalentry.gov once the U.K. establishes a trusted traveler program allowing U.S. citizens to participate.

The information above is a brief summary of a complex immigration program.  The program summary should not be viewed as legal advice relating to the eligibility of any specific person for participation in Global Entry or any other trusted traveler program. 

Mr. Kenneth J. Harder heads the immigration law department of Dunbar Harder, PLLC. More information may be found at www.dunbarharder.com.  

Editor's Note: BABC Houston offered its members access to the pilot programme for Brits last year. If you participated, we'd love to hear about your experience and how it has changed your travel life. E-mail Becci Himes at info@babchouston.org.