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Global Entry Denied? Appeal It!

Chances are you’ve seen and heard about the wonders of the Global Entry program, especially if you live in a major international hub such as Miami, New York or Los Angeles. In short, Global Entry means that entering the U.S. from abroad is no longer a purgatory of lines and custom officer waits, just use the Automated Passport Control Kiosk, and basically you’re on your way. With an application process that involves a thorough background check, an in-person interview process and $100 application fee,  it’s one of the best investments of time and money  you could ever make for your #TravelFly life.

So you pay the fee, fill out the application, schedule the interview…and get denied?

Welcome to reality of the 3-5% of the 30,000 persons that apply for Global Entry every month. There are six main “reasons” for ineligibility for the Global Entry program, however the most common reason people get denied in the U.S. is for past convictions of a crime, both major and minor—but mostly minor. Out of that group of individuals, depending on the circumstances there is hope in appealing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for reconsideration. There is no guarantee of acceptance and there is no way to predict the timing it may take for the process to happen, but if you’ve already invested the fee, do the work and take the chance and you may be speeding through customs sooner than you think. How do I know? It happened to me.

In October of 2014, I sat in the Global Entry interview office inside of JFK airport in New York and held back some serious tears as my assigned officer told me that he could not issue me my Global Entry membership due to a misdemeanor conviction* from 2006 which, because it took place within 10 years of my application, caused me to be denied. I was angry, I was sad, but most of all, I was resilient. After explaining my situation to my officer he suggested that I appeal and explain the situation to the CBP Ombudsman. By May of 2015, I was approved and flying through customs, and here is how I did it:

1. Write The Letter
You may receive a letter in the mail explaining why you have been denied or they will tell you in person at your interview. Even if you feel as if the decision is unjust, the first thing you need to do is to write and mail a letter of appeal to the Customs and Border Patrol Ombudsman:

US Customs and Border Protection
Attn: CBP Ombudsman
P.O. Box 946
Williston, VT 05495

In my letter I included all of my reference information (GOES number, date of birth, address, etc), explained the situation that led to my conviction, and detailed the reasons why Global Entry membership benefits me professionally (in addition to running Parlour, I travel extensively for work), and basically stated my case while recognizing my conviction and the fact that it was the only one I’ve ever had. If you’re in a situation where you feel as if the decision was based on inaccurate information, this is where you also detail the circumstances and include all supporting paperwork that proves your point—documents, receipts, etc. This particularly includes individuals who think they have an expunged record and don’t. Basically, if you’re infraction is small-time, there is a chance they will reconsider. But they also have every right not to.

2. And Then Send An Email
Shortly after sending my letter, I sent an email to the Ombudsman (CBP.cbpvc@dhs.gov) to follow up on the state of my appeal, with the same letter attached. If you send an email, you will get an auto-response that includes the following line to keep in mind: “If you have not received a reply to a request for reconsideration within six months, you may submit a subsequent inquiry.” Basically, expect to wait at least 6 months for a reply.

3. Wait, Try Not To Break Any Laws
Pretty self explanatory.

4. Follow Up Again
If you haven’t heard anything within six months, follow up again.

In early May, I received an email that my account status had changed yet again, and I had the ability to schedule another interview with my local Customs and Border Patrol Office. I was sure to bring all of my appeal documents with me to the interview, and after an in person review I was approved. A few weeks later while connecting through RDU, I was flagged as it turned out that my conviction was still within my profile, after another visit to the CBP office—I was fully cleared and jetting off.

In all the entire process from application to denial to readjustment/approval took 6 months. After speaking with other travelers who were in the same predicament, that period seems to be pretty standard, so if you’re on month two just be patient. No matter what, even if you don’t get approved definitely inquire if you have TSA PreCheck eligibility for domestic travel. Be sure to get all the information you can, stay on top of it and have a bit of faith. Hopefully you will be speeding through customs in no time!

*Pretty automobile thuggin’ in California. I promise you I’m not a murderer, thief or charlatan and no one was harmed, except my for my bank account! 

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington

  • May take longer

    I was denied based on criminal record, which consisted only of two DUI charges 22 years prior and no criminal history of any kind since then. Denied in June 2015, send letter to ombudsman same month. Notified of status change that application was “Conditional Approval” with no further explanation in March 2016. Scheduled a second interview, per instructions for May 2016. Notified of status change that application was “Approved” and KTN provided for immediate use with no further explanation in April 2016. Total time from denial through approval, 10 months. No communication about when or if my appeal was received, considered, or processed. Only notifications of change in status from Denied to Conditional Approval to Approval with no need for a second interview.

  • Very helpful article

    I got my ‘conditional approval’ over a month ago and scheduled my first interview immediately. I had my interview about 4 days ago, and it was quiet lengthy. At then end of it, the CBP agent told me that I should check back on the GOES website for the results the following day. That day was Friday, its Sunday now and still nothing on the website regarding any “results”. I’ll keep at it, but really don’t know who to even contact or follow up with. I’m not sure if the agent told me that to just let me go, or if there will actually be some sort of a notification when I log in this week.

  • UPDATE

    I received an email on Monday (the day after I posted the previous comment) stating that there was a change of status, and as I had feared, I was denied. They stated the reason for denial as being due to an arrest that happened more than 5 years ago, it was subsequently dropped and was expunged. Apparently not since they are able to pull it up. Anyways, I didn’t waste any time and have began the appeals process. H honestly do not believe this is of a disqualifying nature. Seeing as how I have had numerous jobs with security clearances since that incident and I had laid out all the details regarding this case to clearance investigators and it has never been an issue. At most, they only asked for clarification and that was it.

    As advised by this article, I sent an email version of my appeal letter and immediately got an automated response same as in the article. I also called in to local CBP offices to try my luck in schedule an in-person interview with a supervisor, but that was quickly shot down. I was told I’ll hear back via email. When I asked of the current turnaround time for appeals, I was told about 4 months. I’ll try to give a status update when I hear something.

  • Good luck, also send a written letter as a backup!

  • Hurt

    Test.

  • Hurt

    I just found out that I was denied before even being able to get to the interview. I find this incredible. I’m in my 50’s, been employed or owned by owned business all of my adult life, I have paid a very large amount in federal taxes over the year, and never been convicted of a felony. I was convicted of a DUI at the age of 19. Convicted of drunk in public at the age of 22. That was a stupid phase in my life, of course. Nothing since other than a few speeding tickets. I don’t even drink. I have never used the sort of illegal drugs they might think someone would smuggle. I have been through immigration and customers without an incident literally hundreds of times.

    I can appreciate that Homeland Security needs to take this process very seriously. However, they denied me because of a DUI at the age of 19 or because of a drunk in public violation, for which I plead guilty, at the age of 22? As if now I am a security threat or likely to smuggle illegal things into the country?

    I wish I had never applied. Now I feel like my own government thinks I am some sort of security risk. It’s a horrible, awful feeling. Especially because I know, and everyone else knows, I am not. My business activities involve extensive international travel. Now colleagues go through Global Entry and ask my why I don’t do the same. There is little chance of me changing my career to something entirely domestic at this point.

    I will try the appeal process. I hope it works. At this point, I don’t care if I have to wait in long lines when re-entering the country as much as I care about apparently being flagged in a database as “not trusted.”

  • Confused

    Thanks for the article! I am currently on my second month of appeals, so this was very helpful. I read through the comments and it seems like people are having the same issue as I am. I was rejected because of an arrest when I was juvenile. The sad part of this was my rejection was for an ARREST, because I did my community service as a 14 year old and my case was dropped. From this I learned that even if you have never been convicted of a crime they can reject you because arrests stay on your record….

    My favorite part of the rejection was the Customs agent inability to understand this was a juvenile case. She was accusing me of being a liar for not coming clean about my arrest, when I tried to explain how I didn’t think a juvenile case that was dismissed could count she said there was no indication that it was a juvenile arrest. I asked her to do the math from my birthday to the day of the arrest and only got a puzzled look.

    I had followed up the interview with records from the court house proving I had no convictions on record, and was still rejected because they “couldn’t understand the severity of my case” and because of “records being destroyed” even though the courts said they hold all juvenile records for 20 years.

    The good that has come of this, is now I know I have to get my arrest expunged from my record as well…. So keep that in mind if you have a similar issue!

  • KK

    Don’t be hurt. I am quite certain you are far from “not trusted.” For this system to be as foolproof as possible, I believe they are only approving people who statistically pose ZERO risk (ie. no record at all), rather that even a tiny risk. As a citizen of the country, I am sure your minute transgressions are not even noticed.

  • Katherine O’Brien Law

    As always, very informative article.

    I am a Global Entry appeals lawyer. When submitting a Global Entry appeal on behalf of our clients, we always discuss the circumstances surrounding the underlying offense and the nature of the offense (i.e., what was the offense for? how old were they? why were they arrested? why did they plead guilty or why were they found guilty? were they represented by an attorney? etc.) In addition, we also discuss the reasons why Global Entry membership would benefit our client personally and/or professionally.

    We also want to demonstrate that our clients are “low risk.” Thus, we discuss their professional life, educational history, and community involvement among other factors. We also think its important to include documentary evidence such as reference letters from professionals or organizations in the community that can attest to our client’s character, awards/certificates, and copies of any and all court documents relating to the underlying offense (such as police reports, dispositions, judgments of conviction, transcripts; documents relating to the completion of your sentence) etc.

    If you have questions about appealing you Global Entry denial, feel free to give us a call.

    http://katherineobrienlaw.com/global-entry-appeal/