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We receive calls each week regarding the denial or revocation of Global Entry Privileges by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP” or “Customs”)

What is Global Entry?

Under 8 C.F.R. 235.12(a):

The Global Entry program is a voluntary international trusted traveler program consisting of an integrated passenger processing system that expedites the movement of low-risk air travelers into the United States by providing an alternate inspection process for pre-approved, pre-screened travelers. (Emphasis added).

In addition, under 8 C.F.R. 235.12(b)(2):

Disqualifying factors. An individual is ineligible to participate in Global Entry if CBP, at its sole discretion, determines that the individual presents a potential risk for terrorism, criminality (such as smuggling), or is otherwise a low-risk traveler. This risk determination will be based in part upon an applicant’s ability to demonstrate past compliance with laws, regulations, and policies. Reasons why an applicant may not qualify for participation include:

(i) The applicant provides false or incomplete information on the application;

(ii) The applicant has been arrested for, or convicted of, any criminal offense or has pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants in any country;

(iii) The applicant has been found in violation of any customs, immigration, or agriculture regulations, procedures, or laws in any country;

(iv) The applicant is the subject of an investigation by any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency in any country;

(v) The applicant is inadmissible to the United States under applicable immigration laws or has, at any time, been granted a waiver of inadmissibility or parole;

(vi) The applicant is known or suspected of being or having been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism; or

(vii) The applicant cannot satisfy CBP of his or her low-risk status or meet other program requirements.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.

At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.

While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.

https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry

The Trusted Traveler Program Office establishes the policies and procedures for the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) which include NEXUS, SENTRI, and Global Entry. This office has issued guidelines for and standards for vetting applicants which are provided for in the Consolidated Trusted Traveler Programs Handbook (April 2016) (“The Handbook”).

1. What is the general standard for being approved into the TTP Programs?

The Handbook, Section 3.2, The Strict Standard for SENTRI, NEXUS, and Global Entry, states, “The standards for vetting Nexus, Sentri, and Global Entry applicants include the following: Allowance for one, single misdemeanor or summary conviction over ten years old, provided the conviction does not involve narcotics, weapons, pornography, any type of smuggling, trafficking, or currency reporting violations.” Additionally, the Handbook states, “Generally if low-risk status cannot be determined, the application must be denied.”

Additionally, “a felony conviction disqualifies applicants from joining any of the four trusted traveler programs; however, applicants with misdemeanors may be considered for inclusion in some cases, depending on how recent the convictions were, the overall number of misdemeanor convictions, and the applicant’s nationality.” (Emphasis added). U.S. Gen. Accounting Office, GAO-14-483, Trusted Travelers: Programs Provide Benefits, but Enrollment Processes Could Be Strengthened at p. 9 (May 2014).

2. What happens after I submit my TTP application?

The Handbook, Section 5.1 provides that the vetting and risk assessment of all applicants for TTP’s if completed by what is known as the “Vetting Center.” CBP Officers at these vetting centers will vet each application. through a series of background checks. The Handbook, Section 5.5 provides that during said vetting process, a criminal history check is performed on the applicants. If criminal history is discovered and the applicant appears to be ineligible, the vetting center will conditionally approve the application or deny based on the type of criminal history. If conditionally approved, at the TTP interview, the enrollment center officer will request that the applicant obtain court documents pertaining to such criminal activity.

3. What happens when you are denied?

The Handbook, Section 5.6, states “[d]enial notifications are automatically generated by GES [Global Enrollment System] and posted in the applicant’s GOES [Global Online Enrollment System] account. The denial reasons included in the letter are taken from the “Printed Reasons” box in GES. This information will be provided to the applicant. Denial reasons must be sufficiently explained so they are apparent to the reader. For example, ‘Applicant denied based on criminal history: Conviction for Armed Robbery in 1997’ or ‘Denied for CBP violation, undeclared mangos in 1997’ are acceptable comments.”

Further, it states: “It is important that the denial reasons are clearly articulated in the ‘Reasons for Internal Use Only’ section in GES. . . Once the VC denies an application during the risk assessment, the decision is final and not subject to review by an EC [Enrollment Center]. However, when an applicant contacts the EC seeking an ‘appeal’ or reason for the denial, the applicant should be provided the printed reason for the denial. If the applicant claims the actual information used for the denial is incorrect the applicant should be instructed to write a letter to the Ombudsman explaining why he/she feels that the information is incorrect and provide additional pertinent information. (e.g.denial letter stated that a customs violation in 1997, but the applicant claims he/she has never been the subject of a customs violation).”

Section 5.7, “[th]e applicant should be provided with as much information as possible, in an effort to prevent frivolous letters to the Ombudsman.” (Emphasis added).

4. What can you do if denied or revoked?

The Handbook, Section 7, “when an applicant makes a claim that the information is incorrect (such as a record of a criminal conviction), the EC should check and confirm that the information from which the denial is based is accurate. This should include the positive identification of the subject to confirm an exact match. Applicants who have been denied membership in a TTP or members who have had their membership revoked and contact the EC requesting further information should be provided with as much information as appropriate based on CBP and TECS [the principal system used by officers at the border to assist with screening and determinations regarding admissibility of arriving persons] security policies, third agency considerations, and any other policy and legal constraints. For example to the extent consistent with law and CBP policy, the EC officer may disclose to the applicant or member CBP information that relates to that applicant/member which may include criminal records, any voluntary disclosures by applicant, and information regarding previous customs, immigration,” matters.

5. Can I appeal my denial or revocation?

As per CBP’s website:

In the event you are denied or revoked from the Trusted Traveler Programs, you will be provided information in writing detailing the reason for this action. If you believe the decision was based upon inaccurate or incomplete information, you may request reconsideration through the Trusted Traveler Program application website: https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/.

Reconsideration Requests and attachments to the Ombudsman should be in English and must include the following details:

  1. Date of denial and denial reason(s) from this letter
  2. Summary of information to further clarify a record or explain an incident or arrest;
  3. Court disposition documentation in PDF format for all arrests or convictions, even if expunged; and/or
  4. Other supporting documentation you feel may influence the Ombudsman’s decision. Supported formats: PDF, DOCX, DOC, PNG, JPEG, and GIF.

As per email below, we were told you only have one (1) year to file an Ombudsman appeal from the date of the denial or revocation.

The Handbook, Section 14, “The Ombudsman discretion is paramount to the success CBP’s TTP’s” Further, “[t]he Ombudsman will consider whether or not the applicant has an overall compliance travel history since the date of denial or revocation and if so, whether the applicant can be considered a low-risk traveler despite failure to meet the discretionary criteria.” (Emphasis added).

The Handbook provides the following examples of conditions for which favorable discretion should be granted.  

6. What are reasons for Revocations?

The Handbook, Section 15.1 provides the following:

In addition, The Handbook, Section 15.3 states: “[a]ny violation of U.S. law or program rules will result in membership revocation. . . A Post Seizure Analysis (PSA) will also be completed any time a Trusted Traveler member is involved in a significant violation involving:”

  • Currency
  • Marijuana
  • Narcotics (Cocaine, Heroin, Ecstasy, Methamphetamine, etc.)
  • Alien Smuggling
  • Weapons/Ammunition Smuggling

The Handbook, Section 15.4 states:

7. What are the requirements of CBP once an application has been denied or revoked?

The Handbook, Section 15.4, “Whenever a TTP applicant is denied or a current member is revoked, the EC must enter as much information as possible regarding the denial or revocation into the comments section in in the GES. (Emphasis added). Further,

In the case where you pending or dismissed charges, “certified court records will be required before consideration ofr acceptance into a TTP. Proof of final disposition is incumbent on the applicant. If no disposition is available, the charges will be treated as a conviction. Applicants may provide court letters stating no criminal records are found. The EC’s will scan the letter into GES and deny the applicant. The Ombudsman will reserve the right to use discretion and overturn the denial.” (Emphasis added).

8. Can you make an inquiry prior to filing an appeal?

Yes, the Handbook, Section 14.1 provides:

Section 15.6 provides:

8. Where can you get more information about my denial or revocation?

Besides contacting or physically visiting an enrollment center, there are two additional methods for recovering information about your revocation/denial:

  • Submit a Freedom of Information Act request via https://foiaonline.gov/foiaonline/action/public/request
  • You  can obtain your FBI history by submitting a request on https://www.edo.cjis.gov and following the steps under the “Obtaining Your Identity History Summary” section. 

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