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“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

Global Entry makes international travel significantly easier while TSA PreCheck is great for expedited screening when flying domestically. But what if you can’t get them? That’s the problem TPG reader Elliot is facing, as he tells us in a Facebook message…

I got denied for Global Entry for a minor incident that happened almost 20 years ago. What can I do?

TPG Reader Elliot

Many readers know that the Global Entry and TSA PreCheck programs are vital tools for the regular traveler. Global Entry allows international travelers to re-enter the United States through expedited immigration lanes that allow you to skip the often overflowing lines you encounter at the border, while TSA PreCheck reduces the amount of screening needed to board a flight. With both programs, since you’re receiving minimal screening as a trusted traveler, in order to be approved for the program you have to submit to a background check and a personal interview. Therefore it’s not unusual that a blemish on your record — even a small one — can result in being denied for the program.

So if you’re denied, do you have any recourse? The answer is yes, though US Customs and Border Protection doesn’t refer to it as an “appeal” and makes the process sound more restrictive than it is. Here’s what CPB says on its website about Global Entry appeals

In the event you are denied or revoked from the SENTRI, NEXUS or FAST or Global Entry programs, you may be provided information in writing about the reason for this action. If you feel the decision was based upon inaccurate information, you may send an email or write to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman.

Fair enough, but what if your denial was based on accurate information? Well, don’t let that dissuade you, because there are multiple reports of folks who got denied even though the incident in question was correctly reported, but still managed to get approved via an appeal. First, you’ll want to write the CBP Ombudsman at this address:

US Customs and Border Protection
P.O. Box 946
Williston, VT 05495
Attn: CBP Ombudsman

In your letter include not only all your information — name, address, phone and GOES ID number — but also explain the situation in detail and why you believe you should be approved. If it’s a minor one-time incident from years ago, you can emphasize that, and if there is any inaccurate information, you’ll definitely want to include supporting documentation that corrects the record. Do NOT lie. Basically, just make your case as best you can.

You can also send your letter via email to CBP.cbpvc@dhs.gov, but since this is a government agency, I strongly suggest you send a physical letter as well, perhaps by certified mail or with some sort of proof of mailing so that everything is documented. Then be prepared to wait. A while. The CBP website says that “a response may take months” so give it at least six months before following up. Hopefully you’ll hear back within that time, either with good news that you have been reconsidered or with bad news that it’s still a “no.”

You can also appeal being denied for TSA PreCheck by contacting an enrollment center.

For TSA PreCheck, the published rule states that “TSA will notify applicants who are denied eligibility in writing of the reasons for the denial. If initially deemed ineligible, applicants will have an opportunity to correct cases of misidentification or inaccurate criminal or immigration records.” So you should receive a notice that you’ve been denied and why, at which point the first step in the appeal process is to contact your local TSA PreCheck enrollment center or the center where you submitted your TSA PreCheck application. Then you’ll need to complete appeal paperwork and present your evidence and state your case in the same way you would for a Global Entry appeal.

Keep in mind that for both of these programs, there is no guarantee that an appeal will be successful, especially if the issue is more than just a minor incident in your past. In any case, it’s best to follow the “three P’s” — be patient, persistent and polite.

So Elliot, give it a shot and let us know whether you can turn the denial into an approval. Thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image courtesy of The Washington Post/Getty Images.

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