A Guide to Global Entry & TSA PreCheck for Indian citizens
CBP approved the Global Entry Program for Indians. This is a big deal for someone who is a frequent traveler. Indian Citizens on F1 or H1B visa are eligible for the Global Entry Program.
What is the Global Entry Program?
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance through kiosks for pre-approved travelers upon arrival in the United States at select airports. The membership is valid for 5 years and can be renewed. Global entry is not the same as Automated Passport Control. Only US citizens, Canadian visitors and B1 & B2 visa holders can use Automated Passport Control kiosks which does not have any fee associated with it.
How does it work?
At participating airports, once you get off the plane you proceed to Global Entry kiosks instead of the immigration line, scan your passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place your fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration digitally. The kiosk will issue a I-94 and a transaction receipt with your photo that you take to the CBP officer and proceed directly to the baggage claim area or the exit. Every member of the traveling party needs to have their own Global Entry membership in order to use the Global Entry kiosks.
Sample receipt printed from a GEP Kiosk
Sample I-94 printed from a GEP Kiosk
Benefits of Global Entry Program. Is Global Entry worth it for Indian citizens?
- Avoid long lines: The main benefit is avoiding the long immigration lines and CBP questioning. With Global Entry, all you have to do is present the printed receipt from the kiosk and your passport to the CBP officer and proceed directly to the baggage claim area.
- TSAPre: Global Entry includes the TSAPre benefit. That means you won’t have to take off your shoes in the security line and enjoy expedited security nationwide.
- Paperless: You don’t need to fill out the paper customs declaration form on the flight. You will do that at the kiosk directly.
- Reduce missed connections: GEP is helpful if your first port of entry to the US is a connecting airport to your final destination. You do not run the risk of missing out on your connecting flight due to long immigration lines.
How much is the fee?
For Indians holding a green card: $100
For Indians holding a US visa: $100 + $44 (VFS service fees + ICWF + consular fees)
*The $100 is non-refundable. If your application is rejected, you won’t get this money back. As mentioned below, it’s best to use a credit card that offers a benefit or reimbursement.
Many credit cards reimburse you for the fee of the Global Entry application.
Best cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck credit
|Credit Card||Annual Fee||Global Entry and TSA PreCheck terms|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||$95||Application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4 years|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card||$95||Application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4 years|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||$550||Application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4 years|
|Citi Prestige® Card||$495||Application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 5 years|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||$695||Application fee credit for Global Entry ($100) every 4 years or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4.5 years|
How long does it take to get the Global Entry card for Indians?
For Indians holding a green card, it can take a couple of weeks or a month, depending on interview availability.
For Indians holding a US visa, it can take anywhere from 1 yeat or more than a year depending on how fast the background verification process in India moves. The COVID pandemic has caused further delays in this process.
What is the process to enroll in Global Entry Program (GEP)?
Application process for Indian nationals with a US visa differs from the application process for Indian nationals holding a green card. The main difference is the requirement of background verification for visa holders which has to be processed by Indian authorities in India. This is similar to the background verification process by local police when applying for an Indian passport.
Step 1 – Complete an online Global Entry Program (GEP) application on CBP’s Trusted Travel Program website
- Fill out an application at https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/
- The application requires you to include details such as passport, visa, permanent residence card, addresses, employment history, countries visited with all details.
- Pay the fee of $100 with your credit card.
“Pending Review” status after submission of application and payment. Application ID hidden
Steps 2-6 are only applicable for Indians holding a US visa. For Indians holding a green card, skip to Step 7
Step 2 (US visa holders only) – Fill out Global Entry program background check application on Passport Seva Portal
Once you submit the Global Entry Program (GEP) application on the CBP website, you will get an application ID (GES/GOES ID). Use this ID to apply for a background verification for GEP on the Passport Seva Portal .If you do not plan to be physically in India during the process, use your family’s address in India in the application for police verification. After submitting the GEP background verification application, note the Application Reference Number (ARN).
*If you plan to visit India, you can book an appointment ahead of time to visit a Passport Seva Kendra office and get police verification completed while in India. Keep in mind that you need to visit the PSK within 90 days of application. In this case, you do not need to file any other application with VFS as listed below.
Step 3 (US visa holders only) – Create an account on VFS global and submit a Global Entry Program application online using the ARN
VFS global services is the outsourced service provider for Indian passport, visa, and travel partner programs. Visit the VFS Global Entry Program application page and create a profile. Create a new application under the category “GEP”. Make sure you select the correct VFS application center based on your jurisdiction. Include the ARN from Passport Seva Portal and fill in all details in the application. Print and sign.
VFS global – GEP application category
Step 4 (US visa holders only) – Print all documents and mail physical application to VFS application center
Once you complete the application on the VFS website, print all supporting documents, including your VFS GEP application, Passport Seva application, CBP application reference, and include two photographs. Here is a checklist of documents required for the Global Entry program for Indian citizens provided by VFS. You can use the shipment services provided by VFS to avoid any headaches or hassle.
Step 5 (US visa holders only) – Wait for police verification and approval from Ministry of Finance, India
After mailing your documents to VFS, all you can do is play the waiting game. The police will visit your home address in India to complete their verification. After that, the Indian authorities, namely Ministry of Finance complete the verification in their internal systems. This is the most painful part of the process. Travelers have experienced a wait time anywhere from six months to more than a year. Track your application status on the Passport Seva Portal and CBP website regularly.
Once verification is completed by the Indian authorities, the status on CBP will show conditional approval.
Step 6– After the conditional approval on CBP site, schedule an interview at a Global Entry office to complete the final stage of your application
Once your application is conditional approved, you will have to schedule an interview and visit a global entry office located at the listed airports. For Indians holding a green card, the application may be conditionally approved within a short time-frame of around two days to two weeks.
Tip 1: A lot of offices have a waiting period of 6+ months. Some offices entertain walk-ins. You can also do your interview in the dedicated global entry immigration live when you arrive at a port of entry next time during your international travel.
Tip 2: If you are based near San Francisco, you can follow GOESbot on twitter handle to get open slots for interviews as they become available. You can replicate the GitHub code for other locations.
Carry all your original documents with you for the global entry interview:
- Work authorization (for US visa holders)
- Permanent resident card (for green card holders)
- Drivers license
- Address proof
- Letter of conditional approval
Provide fingerprints and get your photo taken. The officer will confirm your approval and your application status will change to approved within an hour. The application approval shows your PASS ID. This is your global entry number. You will get the physical card in mail within 7-10 business days. You do not need the physical card with you if you arrive in the US via air travel. You only need it if you are crossing the border by land.
**If you are not a U.S. citizen or Green card holder, you will not receive a Global Entry card. The card is required for entry via a Global Entry line when travelling by land or sea. By air, all you need is the KTN.
If your visa stamp/sticker or permanent card expires after the GEP approval and you have updated documents from the USCIS, a CBP officer at the Global Entry immigration line can update the visa or permanent resident card information in their GEP system next time you enter the United States.
Tip 3: Use the Known Traveler Number when booking flights online to avail the benefit of TSA Pre on your travels.
Known Traveler Number or KTN is the same for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.
Domestic Travel by air with TSA PreCheck
- During the booking or check-in, enter your KTN issued by the DHS. If you’re unable to, ask the agent at the gate, or call customer service.
TSA Pre must be printed on your boarding pass to be able to use the expedited security line
2. Keep in mind that most airports do close the TSA PreCheck line at times of low passenger traffic.
In this case, most TSA agents will note it down and allow you to go through with PreCheck privileges (no need to remove your laptop, shoes, etc.) but you still have to wait in the regular line
3. You may use TSA PreCheck even when boarding an international flight from the U.S.
Some major U.S. airports — LAX, ORD, LGA, at least — have a PreCheck line dedicated to those travelling in Business/First class, or have priority status with their airline. This makes getting through security even faster!
International Travel by air with Global Entry
The same rules as for domestic travel apply here also.
If you entered your KTN during booking or check-in, you will see a TSA PreCheck badge on your boarding pass on any boarding pass issued for a flight taken from the U.S. or directly to the U.S.
Entering the U.S. when ‘conditionally approved’ — Inactive KTN
This is when you are approved for Global Entry but your KTN has not yet been set to active, i.e. you have not yet had an interview with Customs & Border Patrol
- On entry to the U.S. (by air), go to the Global Entry line and walk directly to the Border Security agent for your interview
- Ensure you carry all necessary documents
Entering when fully approved — Active KTN
Your KTN is active and ready for full-fledged use.
You do NOT need to fill out a Customs form that’s usually handed out on planes.
- Walk up to a Global Entry Kiosk
It is different from e-Passport! Follow the prompts on the screen — you will be fingerprinted and have your picture taken
2. Scan your passport
Do NOT scan your visa. You might have been told to do so at your interview but trust me, that does not work.
While your KTN is tied to your visa, it’s actually the passport that is used to verify. Not the visa.
The immigration officer I met with at the airport (Chicago, when I landed there from London), said that it was a common mistake to scan the visa. I took his word for it because I’ve travelled three more times since, and scanning my passport worked like a charm every single time!
If you have an issue here (and it might happen if it’s your first time entering after receiving your KTN), walk over to an agent to help out.
Remember: You will need to see an agent if you got a new visa stamped/issued as well, but you can still use the Global Entry kiosk.
3. Answer customs questions
These are the same questions as on the printed form you might be used to filling up. Read through the screen and select appropriate answers.
- Take the white or blue slip (usually white) the machine prints for you, and hold on to it.
- At customs (use the Global Entry line if available) hand over your passport and the slip from the machine to the border security agent and go on out!
It is worth the wait and admin processing in US & India which takes almost 1-1.5 years: We do not know if the complete verification process needs to be done again when the KTN is up for renewal in 4 years.