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TPG reader Eric sent me a message on Facebook to ask about Global Entry enrollment:

“My Global Entry application was conditionally approved last week. I’ve been trying to schedule an interview here in Austin, but there are none available. They say I have 30 days to schedule it, but I really don’t want to have to drive to Houston and take a day off from work. Any advice?”

My Global Entry membership has saved me a lot of time going through security when I return to the US, and I’d encourage anyone who travels internationally to sign up. That said, the application process is a bit inefficient, and one big knock against the program is the long wait to schedule an interview at many enrollment centers. The busiest offices are often booked for months without a single open appointment time, and while the CBP has experimented with ways to make more slots available, many people have found themselves in Eric’s shoes.

Once you receive conditional approval for Global Entry, you have 30 days to schedule an appointment or your application will be discarded. If that happens, you’ll have to start over and pay another application fee (or use another credit card that reimburses you for the cost). That’s problematic if the enrollment center near you doesn’t have any appointments available, but there’s a simple solution.

Fortunately, your appointment doesn’t have to actually take place during that 30 days, you just have to schedule one during that time. You can change your appointment date and location after you’ve scheduled it, so you’re not locked into whatever happens to be available initially. If the enrollment center near you is backed up, you can schedule an appointment elsewhere and then adjust it as needed. It can be months down the road and halfway across the country; so long as you schedule it within 30 days of conditional approval, you’ll be able to proceed.

Find an empty
If your local enrollment center is booked solid, see if your travel schedule has room for a visit to one that’s less busy.

In Eric’s case, he could take an available slot in Houston (or anywhere) far in the future, and keep an eye on the Austin enrollment center to see if anything opens up sooner. Another good strategy is to try and fit an interview into your existing travel plans. Check the schedules at any destinations you plan to visit, and see if you can schedule an appointment that meshes with your arrival or departure times. The interview itself is usually brief, so you might even be able to squeeze it into a layover. There have even been some reports of customers successfully walking in for an interview without an appointment, but your mileage may vary.

For more tips on applying and getting approved for Global Entry, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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