A new business coalition hopes to work with the Trump administration to reverse declining international travel to the United States.
The Visit U.S. Coalition, which launched today, consists of trade groups that represent many travel-related businesses and workers.
As global travel increased 8 percent over the last two years, the U.S. share of that travel fell — from 13.6 percent in 2015 to 11.9 percent in 2017, according to data cited by the coalition.
International travelers spent $246 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), which is member of the coalition. About half of the 75.6 million foreign visitors that year were from Mexico and Canada.
In the coming weeks, Visit U.S. said it will propose policy recommendations. In addition to USTA, the coalition’s founding members include the American Gaming Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
International travelers now may find it faster to get a Global Entry membership — at least for some international travelers passing through the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and a few other locations.
As of this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is letting people who’ve completed the first part of the Global Entry application process proceed to an interview without an appointment at one of five airports, including SFO. Until now, travelers often waited several months for an interview.
Last year, I blogged about my experience waiting seven months for a Global Entry interview at SFO.
The five airports with the Enrollment on Arrival program are among the busiest Global Entry enrollment areas. In addition to SFO, the four other airports are: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas; George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport in Houston; and Vancouver International Airport in Canada. The CBP plans to expand the program to more airports.
CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Global Entry application volume has increased steadily over the last several years. A five-year membership costs $100.
Over 4 million Global Entry members use automated kiosks to bypass the traditional customs inspection process at 53 U.S. airports and 15 other sites, speeding up the international arrivals process. Members also get expedited airport security screening through TSA PreCheck.
Here’s what you do to become a Global Entry member:
If you pass a background check and receive conditional approval, you must make an appointment for an in-person interview with a CBP officer at one of over 100 Global Entry Enrollment Centers or follow the new Enrollment on Arrival program.
You must provide identification and biometrics during the interview.
After final approval, you receive a Global Entry number. A Global Entry card arrives via mail a few weeks later.
Last summer, I signed up for a government program to help me move faster through airports globally and found myself stuck in a poky approval process.
Global Entry members bypass traditional customs inspection lines and use an automated kiosk to enter the United States. (Quick facts at bottom.) It also includes TSA PreCheck, which lets travelers into a special security line without having to take off your shoes and coat or remove your laptop.
It makes sense, especially if you travel often or internationally. Friends raved about Global Entry, but I procrastinated.
I applied just as government agencies and airlines were promoting Global Entry after travelers last spring experienced long waits at U.S. airports.
As a result, applications surged and I was looking at a seven-month wait for an appointment at the San Francisco International Airport. I’m told the wait is not as long at some other airports.
This week, my interview day finally arrived.
At my local Global Entry office, I joined about a dozen other people sitting in chairs or standing outside the office door, which was closed with a sign saying “Do not knock.” After a few minutes, a woman stepped out to take names.
When my name was called, I entered the office and was told to sit at cubicle No. 3. A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer asked for my identification. Warning: If your home street address is not on your identification, you must bring a utility bill printed with it. Read the “Special Instructions” at the end of your appointment notice.
My photograph was taken and fingerprints scanned. That lets the CBP conduct a criminal background check and it’s needed to use the airport kiosks.
It all took less than 15 minutes.
I’m eager to test my new travel privileges, but I’m still waiting. The CBP officer said I should be notified within 48 hours.
Tip: If you have to wait a while for a Global Entry interview and have an international trip in the meantime, consider downloading the CBP’s free passport control app. It helps because you can electronically fill out the customs declaration form and use a special customs line.
Who: For U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and citizens of some other countries who fly within the United States and internationally.
What: Members who arrive at a U.S. airport go to a Global Entry kiosk to: Scan their passport and fingerprints; answer customs declaration questions; and go through an express customs lane. It includes TSA PreCheck to move through security lines faster.