Denied for Global Entry or PreCheck? Here's how to appeal
No one enjoys waiting in what can seem like endless security lines at the airport. Frequent travelers know that Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are must-haves to make travel a breeze, but what if you are denied from the programs? The good thing is a denial doesn't always mean you have to say goodbye to an easy trip through the airport.
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.
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Why do people get denied?
Applicants get denied for a variety of reasons, some may seem like minor infractions you didn't even think twice about.
- Past criminal history, no matter how minor or long ago
- Currently under investigation by a law enforcement agency
- Violation of customs, immigration or agriculture regulations
- Prohibited and undeclared items
- False or undisclosed information on your application
Related: 5 Reasons Your Global Entry Was Denied
You can appeal
The good thing is you can actually appeal the decision. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will give you the reason for being denied by a Trusted Traveler program. However, it can be a little vague and CBP doesn't have a way for you to get more details on your application.
"We cannot provide you additional information about your specific situation, as your eligibility is determined by a myriad of factors evaluated by the vetting center and the CBP Officer that interviews you if you are conditionally approved."
Related: What you need to know about TSA PreCheck
With the information you do have, write a letter to the Ombudsman at CBP.firstname.lastname@example.org that states when and why CBP says you were denied. Also include your explanation of what happened in the incident that got you denied and any documents that can corroborate your story. You can also submit a reconsideration request through the application website.
TSA makes appealing a PreCheck decision a little easier. If you receive a letter of ineligibility, they will also attach a list of ways to proceed if you still want to try to enroll in PreCheck. Some include contacting your local agency or submitting a letter of appeal to email@example.com if you applied for PreCheck through Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI.
Related: 5 Reason to get PreCheck
"Eligibility for the TSA Pre[check]TM Application Program is within the sole discretion of TSA, which will notify individuals 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."
What if your denial was based on accurate information? There's good news. 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.firstname.lastname@example.org, but since this is a government agency, we 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.”
Related: Should you get TSA PreCheck or Clear? …Or both?
Unfortunately for those who are eager to utilize the benefits of Trusted Traveler programs, there is no guarantee of approval once an appeal is filed. There is also no set time frame for how long it takes a new decision to be reached. All we can suggest is to give it a chance.
Get Global Entry or PreCheck for free
Related reading: Global Entry vs TSA PreCheck: Which is better?
If you don't have PreCheck, you can enroll for free by paying for your application with a credit card that refunds the application fee. And if you travel internationally frequently, you might just want to apply for Global Entry instead and enjoy the benefits of both that program and TSA PreCheck combined.There are more than a dozen credit cards that refund your application fees.
Related: Best credit cards for free Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Additional reporting by Julian Mark Kheel.