International travelers can skip much of the customs lines with Global Entry – a fast pass for approved travelers. But it could take them twice as long as usual to get Global Entry when applying for the program in Charlotte.
That’s because a number of customs and border officers working in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport have been reassigned to the Southwest border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. That left fewer people to handle the applications.
Before the reassignment of some border officers, it took between six to eight weeks to complete the Global Entry enrollment process, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Rob Brisley said. Now the wait time is roughly 100 days.
The Charlotte airport is one of 50 airports with a Global Entry enrollment on arrival program, the Customs and Border Protection agency said, and the only Global Entry Enrollment Center in North Carolina.
Travelers apply for conditional approval for the program online, and complete the application with an in-person interview.
But the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website doesn’t show any available appointments for Global Entry interviews in Charlotte.
How it works
It’s still possible, however, to enroll in Global Entry at the Charlotte airport, Brisley said.
Travelers can’t make an appointment ahead of time for Global Entry interviews in Charlotte right now. But if they’ve been conditionally approved for the program online, passengers can complete the global entry process with a five to 10 minute interview when reentering the U.S., Brisley said.
Signs in the airport point international arrivals to the Global Entry enrollment office.
The closest Global Entry airport enrollment centers with available interview appointments listed online as of Monday are: Atlanta with a Dec. 11 appointment; Blountville, Tenn. with a Nov. 12 appointment; and the Washington-Dulles International Airport with a Nov. 22 appointment.
The application process can be started online by making a Trusted Traveler Programs account on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website and paying a $100 application fee. The completed membership lasts for five years, and includes TSA PreCheck, which can be used as a type of fast pass for domestic flights, Brisley said.
TSA PreCheck enrollments are handled by contractors and are not affected by border officer reassignments, TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said. TSA PreCheck by itself is a five-year, $85 membership.
At the border
More than 700 border officers were reassigned this year from 300 ports of entry to the Southwest border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
The number of reassigned officers was reduced to 400 this month. The officers reassigned to the Southwest border were picked on a volunteer-basis, Brisley said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection would not release details on how many officers were moved from Charlotte. Border officers were reassigned from Northern border ports, seaports and airports across the country.
U.S. Border Patrol has seen a huge increase in people arriving at the Southwest border. From October 2018 to July 2019, Border Patrol apprehended 760,370 people on the Southwest border. That’s more people than the last two years combined — 700,489 people, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
This article first appeared in The Charlotte Observer.