There is a lot of varying information about applying for Global Entry so I wanted to share my first hand experience. I opted for Global Entry over TSA PreCheck because Global Entry allows you to enter the US more quickly and includes TSA PreCheck. If you are not travelling Internationally TSA PreCheck may be fine and I have heard it is a quicker process.
With Global Entry instead of waiting in a long line to see a border control agent, you answer a few questions at a kiosk, scan your fingerprints, show your receipt to an agent and exit the passport control area. It also includes TSA PreCheck which is usually a shorter and faster line at security. TSA PreCheck also allows you to go through airport security without removing your shoes, belt, light outerwear, laptop and bag with liquids. Both of these programs allow you to save time and hassle while traveling.
Step 1: Apply for Global Entry on the GOES. You will need your passport information and they will ask you questions about where you have worked and lived in the past five years. A $100 non-refundable fee is required.
There are Credit Cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card that will cover the cost. Also, if you hold elite status the airline may cover the $100 fee.
Step 2: After accepting your completed application and fee, CBP will review your application. If your application is conditionally approved, then your GOES account will instruct you to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.
The appointment schedule is typically booked at a minimum of 2 months out. You can continually check to see if there are cancelations. The centers are all at airports so you can check multiple airports to see if they have openings if you are traveling.
I walked in to Chicago O’Hare Customs and Border Control office and they told me they cant turn anyone away but they wont interview me until everyone has been seen and there isn’t anyone in the office. They have 6 appointments every 15 minutes and roughly 250 per day so you would get VERY lucky to be seen before the end of the day. I was there in the afternoon and waited 2.5 hours. They saw me right at 5:15pm as they had their last interview.
Step 3: Interview day: You will need to bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card to the interview. It also says you need to print the acceptance page but I just had an electronic version. My interview was very easy and less than 5 minutes. They just ask about why you want to be on this program.
Keep in mind, every US Customs and Border Control Agent is different and some seemed very intense and may require the paper/ask more questions.