On Wednesday the Department of Homeland Security prohibited New York residents from enrolling in multiple Trusted Traveler Programs, the most notable being Global Entry. According to a letter sent to the state of New York by acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, New York residents are now ineligible to enroll or re-enroll in Global Entry, effective immediately. The ban comes after the state of New York enacted the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, otherwise known as the Green Light Law, which went into effect back in December.
The Green Light Law allows any resident of New York to receive a Driver’s License regardless of their lawful status within the US. According to the NY DMV it also, “provides a number of privacy protections that limit data sharing, including to agencies that primarily enforce immigration laws.” Acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, issued a statement saying, “CBP is able to offer Trusted Traveler Programs like Global Entry because we are able to use DMV data to make an evidence-based assessment that those individuals who seek this benefit are low risk and meet the eligibility requirements. Without the DMV information we aren’t able to make that assessment.” The ban on Global Entry has been estimated by Customs and Border Protection to affect upwards of 150,000-200,000 New York residents this year alone.
What does this mean for Traveling Families?
Unfortunately, it could mean quite a bit. Unlike TSA pre-check, where children under the age of 12 can tag along with an eligible parent, Global Entry requires every single person to have their own account. This means that if a child’s Global Entry expires first, the parent will not be allowed to bring the child through the global entry kiosk. For many this will mean the entire family going through the regular customs line as they will not want to split up. Families who were in the process of getting everyone enrolled, but had not quite finished, will not be able to complete their applications. Global Entry is a boon for many traveling families as it allows eligible members to skip long International lines and be cleared through a kiosk instead. This change will bring about longer lines at customs, potentially creating more stress and frustration for families.
In case you are wondering just how long customs and immigration lines can be, US Customs and Border Protection has great information on their website regarding wait times for all international airports in the US. The program on this page will allow you to choose any airport and travel day(s). It will then produce a very detailed report on the average, and max, wait times at every terminal. Many of the larger airports show their max wait times reaching and exceeding 2 hours during peak travel times.
What can you do?
Fortunately, we do have a little bit of good news to share with you. While Global Entry is considered the best program for international travel, there is also another popular program called Mobile Passport that allows for expedited entry as well. This program allows residents of both the US and Canada to download an app on their smart phones and digitally send their arrival information to Customs and Border Protection. It’s currently approved for use at 27 different airports and 4 cruise ports with dedicated lines at each of these locations. The best part? The entire family can use Mobile Passport. In fact, up to 12 profiles can be created on a single account, allowing just one person to input your trip information. It also saves you from having to fill out those pesky paper forms they pass out on the airplane. It’s also free! So don’t change your travel plans just yet. Download the Mobile Passport app and take your kids on an international trip they will never forget.