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Monday, February 07, 2011

Israelis to be allowed to take part in US Global Entry program

Israel's Foreign Ministry and the US Department of Homeland Security have reached an agreement that will allow Israelis to take advantage of the Global Entry program into the United States.
Global Entry is a preferred traveler program for people considered low risk by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Members of the program are granted “expedited entry” into the US (government speak for you get to skip all of the lines) in exchange for submitting to a background investigation and interview.


Enrollment is fairly easy and good for five years. It consists of filling out a form on the CBP website with information that you would find on most standard background checks such as SSN, employer, place of residence, place of birth, driver license number and listing of any convictions plus some travel specific information like passport number and places you have traveled in the past five years. The form is then submitted along with a $100 fee for the screening.

The second step, once the background check is completed, is an interview with CBP at one of their enrollment centers.
The interview takes about 15 minutes and includes gathering biometric data. Now, Israelis will be able to join the program too.
According to estimations, hundreds of Israelis will be able to join the test group in the coming months, and utilized the automated biometrics checks similar to those available at Ben Gurion Airport. The US will determine the criteria by which it will decide who is qualified to enroll in the program.

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, this is the first step towards the cancellation of the US visa requirements for Israelis. Ayalon promoted the subject in a conversation with Smith.

"This meeting was very important for the cooperation in the field of homelands security," Ayalon told Ynet. "We have here an expression of trust in the citizens of Israel and its systems, and that is big news."
But you may want to think about whether Global Entry is worthwhile for you.
Finally, the big question, was it worth my time to join the program? Based on my first entry, no it wasn’t. While the global entry program worked as advertised and I arrived at the baggage claim 15 minutes sooner than most of the people on my flight, Continental’s baggage handling was so slow that ultimately it just meant I waited at baggage claim for 30 minutes instead of standing in line for immigration for 15 minutes and then at baggage claim for 15 minutes. I didn’t make it through the entire process any faster than the couple sitting next to me on the flight. It also doesn’t account for the half day I spent flying to nearest enrollment site for my interview plus the hour spent between the interview and filling out the form. Hopefully on the next trip, the baggage handling will be more efficient and it will make a difference. I’ll with hold further judgment until then.
I am not in this program either in the US (where I'm probably eligible already by virtue of my US passport) or in Israel. Part of that is because I don't feel like paying the money, part of that is because for the 2-5 times a year that I travel, I don't believe it's worth it, and part of it is because I actually like getting my passport stamped. My sense is that for people who join in Israel, you save a lot more time leaving the country (and getting into the duty free area) than you do entering the country. In the US, you don't need your passport stamped when you leave the country.

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At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just went to the GOES site. What a mess! Looks like some bureaucrats with useless jobs kept themselves busy in a way to drive the traveling public even crazier than everything they've piled onto us until now.

To confuse everyone even more, how does this relate for Israelis to the older ESTA program?

Nothing like government confusion!


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