Successful Global Entry Interview During the Government Shutdown

During the government shutdown TSA lines have been longer in some cases (more screeners calling in sick since it’s unclear when they’ll be paid for the work they’re doing), air traffic controllers are working for deferred pay, and immigration lines have gotten longer in some cases too.

The idea is that the federal government isn’t supposed to be paying workers in agencies where funds haven’t been approved, but that critical work has to continue. The vast majority of Department of Homeland Security employees are still ‘on the job’ and expect to be paid for their current work when the shutdown ends.

However not all functions remain ‘active’ and it’s also not entirely clear even to the government itself who is supposed to be working and what they’re allowed to do. The FAA has called back aircraft inspectors after first determining they should be furloughed.

One area that has generated confusion is the Global Entry program. While there were some reports in the late days of December of Global Entry interviews taking place, since then interviews have gotten cancelled.

  • You apply for Global Entry online
  • Once you receive ‘conditional approval’ you have to schedule an in-person interview
  • Those interviews aren’t considered crucial enough to continue during the shutdown

Copyright: andreyuu / 123RF Stock Photo

My daughter received conditional approval for Global Entry. Unlike precheck where small children can accompany parents, if the child – even a baby – doesn’t have Global Entry then parents cannot use it when they land back in the U.S.. My wife and I wanted her to get Global Entry right away!

Unfortunately her interview was scheduled for early January, and the morning it was scheduled we received a cancellation email (unlike Phoenix in Austin they know how to use bcc: for mass emails),

The Austin Global Entry Enrollment Center (Trusted Traveler) is currently closed due to the ongoing government shutdown. Due to a lapse in funding, all Customs and Border Protection Global Entry Enrollment Centers will be closed during the shutdown. You are receiving this email as this may or may not affect you depending on when government funding is secured. If your appointment time is affected, It will be necessary for you to reschedule your interview after U.S. Government operations resume …

My wife and I took our daughter on her first international trip this past week. Fortunately we flew back into Austin and with limited international service lines there are short. We used an immigration kiosk to speed things, picked up our bags, and headed for the customs exit.

There were still signs up for Global Entry interviews on arrival, and I had even received an (automated) email saying that interviews could be conducted on arrival. I asked each border official I encountered whether we could do this for our daughter, and each told me to ask the next person.

At the last step, as we were being waived through with our luggage, I asked again about Global Entry interview on arrival. The agent there said “we can’t do that because of the government shutdown.” Really, I asked? “Each of the staff before me said to ask you, they thought it was possible.”

The agent directed us to wait by the side. He said he’d have to wait until the flight was fully processed (fortunately – Austin – there was only one international flight arriving) and he would check. A few minutes passed and two other passengers came to wait by us. It seems Customs and Border Protection had determined they were allowed to process Global Entry interviews on arrival, and two other passengers asked about having theirs. They were instructed to wait behind us.

Once our inbound flight was processed an agent asked us to come over and show our daughter’s passport, as well as one of our driver’s licenses.

  • Since she’s a three month old baby she cannot answer questions
  • And they do not try to fingerprint her
  • Everything went quickly, all they needed to do once they pulled up her record was photograph her.

The Global Entry interview on arrival process worked, despite the government shutdown. That will help because we have our second international trip with our daughter next month.

Even if the shutdown ends soon, there will be a backlog of conditionally approved applicants who need to schedule interviews. It may be tough to do. My suggestion is that once the shutdown ends, even if you aren’t able to schedule an interview, consider showing up anyway if you’re passing through the airport. I’ve found that agents sometimes, though not always, are willing to squeeze in walk-ins.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Yeah, I’ve heard mixed reports. Apparently the enrollment interview on arrival is still running at several airports, but not at others.

    That doesn’t surprise me at all about each employee saying to ask the next one, though. When I did interview on arrival at JFK T1, none of the people directing passengers to lines knew what I was talking about what I asked where to go for it (and there were no signs for it out at the time.)

  2. Congratulations–daughter and GE for her. All I gotta say is about getting things processed–you lucky dog. I somehow missed my renewal date in the craziness of work. I applied in Oct and have yet to hear back. I am stuck in limbo for 3 months. No movement even after I pinged them. I fully expect things will get delayed more.

  3. Gary, did you pay for Global Entry for your baby or did you get it as a credit card benefit? We have a new baby and an AmEx Platinum. My wife and I both have cards, but we’ve each used our Global Entry benefit recently. Would we need to get an AmEx card for her (an infant!) to get another Global Entry credit?


  4. @Eric – You do not need a card in your child’s name to get a global entry statement credit, but you do need a card with an available statement credit. I have half a dozen cards offering global entry/tsa application statement credits, so I paid her application fee using a card in my name. Most cards offering this benefit will give you the statement credit once every 4 years, some are only once every 5 [which is inconvenient as you will want to renew BEFORE your 5 years are up].

  5. How do you print out the piece of paper from the Global Entry machine for the baby if there is no fingerprint check?

  6. Gary, Late November I paid for and applied for renewal of my and wife’s global entry due to expire in March. I assume they are held up due to the shut down. We are leaving for a trip to Asia in April. If the new cards don’t arrive before then will the expired ones get an extension or are we back on the long line again?

  7. @Rick Salzer – you do not need cards. You need your renewal to process, no extensions at this point. Once the shutdown ends they’ll be back to processing. Keep checking your account online because they may approve you and not even tell you. As long as the approval happens that’s all you need. [Have you checked your status online?]

    The good (?) news is it sounds like there’s at least some chance of a deal to end the shutdown in the offing, essentially $5b border wall funds for DACA. We’ll see.

  8. GE is essential because I want all my kids to have precheck too. Alas we are scheduled to renew next weekend and not looking good. At least precheck still works

  9. Just did my GE renewal and APEC approval at SFO on arrival. You turn up, add your name to a list (like a restaurant table wait list) and they call you up. Takes about 8 mins per person,

  10. I am assuming you went with GE as getting to a NEXUS appointment would be more difficult for you (and GE was reimbursed anyway). However, in case you forgot (or your readers are in a position where NEXUS would be convenient), it might be worth pointing out that NEXUS is free for children under 18.

  11. Hi Gary I have been waiting for just a TSA Pre check. Do you know if that has been stalled by the government shutdown. I went a day before and the gent said it would just take a few days and now I have been waiting a long time.

  12. Global Entry is still not accepting new applications. An error message still pops up talking about the backlog of the partial government shutdown. Do you have any information of when new applications and/or renewals will be accepted?

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