After being closed for almost six (6) months, Global Entry enrollment centers are finally reopening today (September 8, 2020). If you are waiting to complete your Global Entry interview, now is the time to try to schedule (or reschedule) your Global Entry interview and complete your Global Entry application.
Global Entry Enrollment Centers Reopening
Global Entry Enrollment Centers were closed for almost six months (from March 19 to September 8) to minimize the exposure of CBP personnel and the public to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Their reopening was postponed a few times but they are finally opening to the public today, September 8, 2020.
CBP has introduced new measures at enrollment centers to promote social distancing and protect the health and safety of travelers. CBP personnel at enrollment centers are now required to wear agency-approved masks when interacting with the public. All applicants and visitors at enrollment centers are required to wear face masks consistent with CDC recommendations and state and local mandates.
In addition to the new face mask requirements, applicants who visit enrollment centers may observe:
- Staggered or reduced appointment availability;
- The elimination of sign-in sheets and certain other touch points;
- Limited seating in waiting areas;
- More frequent disinfection of the service counters;
- Plexiglass barriers and/or facial shields at service counters; and
- Other measures to promote social distancing.
Specific health and safety measures may vary among enrollment centers based upon the physical layout of the facility and other considerations. CBP will continue to require that all Trusted Traveler Programs applicants submit fingerprints during their interview to complete the enrollment process.
The release also states that while Global Entry enrollment centers are open, “NEXUS and U.S.-Canada FAST interviews at U.S. and Canadian enrollment centers will remain suspended until further notice. SENTRI and FAST-South enrollments on the southern border may also be limited. CBP reminds all travelers that crossing a U.S. land border for the purpose of visiting a Trusted Traveler Programs enrollment center is non-essential travel.”
How hard will it be to find a Global Entry Appointment?
Even before the CBP closed Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers this year due the pandemic, it had been difficult for some applicants to find Global Entry interview availability. During the US government shutdown that ended early 2019, interviews were cancelled so wait times increased when the government re-opened again. In the summer of 2019, CBP canceled some Global Entry scheduled interviews and sent personnel to the southern border due to the “ongoing humanitarian and security crisis.”
It is likely that now that Global Entry Enrollment Centers just reopened, it will become even more difficult to find Global Entry interview availability as there will be a large backlog of applicants waiting to schedule a Global Entry interview. On the other hand, it is possible that new applications could be fewer than in the past due to less people traveling internationally or avoiding non essential contact with other people.
However, Interview availability varies depending on the enrollment center. Also, appointments always get cancelled at the last minute so it is possible to find availability if you keep trying. See related post Scheduling Your Global Entry Interview Faster on how to schedule your Global Entry interview ASAP even if there are no appointments at your closest Global Entry enrollment center.
How does this affect upcoming Global Entry renewals?
If your Global Entry is subject to renewal soon, you might not be affected. Most people are approved for Global Entry renewal without having to complete an interview (including both of us). However some people are only conditionally approved and required to complete interview for final approval.
If your Global Entry will be expiring soon, make sure to apply before your Global Entry expires. The CBP will extend the program benefits of members for up to 18 months as long as you apply for renewal before the expiration date. This way you will not be left without Global Entry while your renewal application is pending or if you are having a hard time finding an interview appointment. You can find our guide on how to renew Global Entry here.