(Updated October 27, 2012): What do you do if U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) denies your membership in the Global Entry program? According to CBP, a denied applicant has two options, although I have added a third:
1. If you feel the decision was based on inaccurate information, you may contact a Global Entry Enrollment Center to discuss your denial.
2. Or, you may also write an appeal to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman at:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
P.O. Box 946
Williston, VT 05495
Attention: CBP Ombudsman
3. You can also submit a complaint to CBP, if you are not getting anywhere with the Ombudsman. You should at some point receive a reply from the Complaints Department.
I tried the first option on behalf of a client, and got referred to Option Two: the CBP Ombudsman. If you have a complicated issue, you should consider the second option anyway as you would have a paper trail to track your inquiries. You would need a carefully crafted letter, either prepared yourself or through an attorney.
What if you have had a prior criminal offense? Here is a clipping from the CBP FAQ section: Is criminal history a disqualifier for Global Entry? A: Global Entry is a risk-based approach to facilitate the entry of pre-approved U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents of the United States and citizens of certain other countries. Applicants may not qualify for participation in the Global Entry program if any of the following conditions are applicable:
- They provide false or incomplete information on the application;
- They have been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges to include outstanding warrants;
- They have been found in violation of any Customs, Immigration, or Agriculture regulations or laws in any country;
- They are subjects of an investigation by any Federal, state, or local law enforcement agency;
- They are inadmissible to the United States under Immigration regulation, including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation; or
- They cannot satisfy CBP of their low-risk status or meet other program requirements.
The FAQ does state, ‘convicted of any offense.’ However, just because you have been arrested, that does not mean that you have been convicted of a criminal offense. Hypothetically, an arrest may have been charged as criminal offenses, but later reduced to a civil infraction. You or your attorney will need to carefully examine the minute order for the violation to see the ultimate disposition for the case by the court. For example, an applicant may have had a DUI arrest reduced to a traffic ordinance violation.
What if an applicant did commit a petty offense? Under the above guidelines, the applicant would not be entitled to Global Entry. The New York Times had a recent article on Global Entry. I was privileged to be quoted on this issue in that article. Susan Stellin from the New York Times did ask John Wagner, executive director of admissibility and passenger programs for United States Customs and Border Protection about this issue. Mr. Wagner gave the following response: “By and large, any type of criminal conviction would disqualify someone,” said John Wagner, executive director of admissibility and passenger programs for United States Customs and Border Protection. “We are looking for people who have demonstrated past compliance with laws and regulations.” Here is the interesting part of what Mr. Wagner said to the Times: Asked whether a drunken-driving arrest or past drug use divulged during the Global Entry interview might lead to a rejection, Mr. Wagner responded: “It could. It is an assessment of the person we’re looking at as far as risk factors.”
This is an interesting statement and does leave some wiggle room to an applicant. Based on this statement, an applicant could argue that, notwithstanding the prior violation, he or she is a low risk traveler and therefore entitled to Global Entry privileges. That would be an argument for the applicant or his or her attorney to make in the letter to the CBP Ombudsman.