Fee-backed Global Entry program is still accepting new members for expedited screening.
International travelers during the shutdown can still apply for a Homeland Security Department service that fast-tracks entry into the United States – one bright spot for the world economy.
Global Entry, one of several "trusted traveler" programs, does not depend on congressional appropriations to operate. The fee-funded service lets prescreened citizens, as well as certain foreign nationals, circumvent customs at airports.
Julie Myers Wood, former head of the department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, who happened to apply for membership over the weekend, said that "as of Saturday, Global Entry is open, accepting applications, doing interviews and approving folks.”
DHS officials confirmed the program remains unaffected. Global Entry RFID identification cards, which are generated and mailed by the Government Printing Office, also will ship as normal.
In addition, under a new initiative called PreCheck, members instantly will get permission to keep on their shoes and belts at express lines for domestic flights.
Both Global Entry and PreCheck, however, require giving up some privacy for convenience. Travelers will be subjected to fingerprinting, background checks and potentially third-party monitoring of social media activities, before they are deemed safe enough for the fast lane.
All Global Entry members will receive RFID cards, but they aren’t needed at airports. The passes provide perks at road checkpoints, through separate programs that automatically link benefits, DHS officials said. The NEXUS and SENTRI programs let members zoom through dedicated lanes at border crossings when entering the United States from Canada or Mexico, respectively.
At airports, Global Entry participants must swipe passports or permanent resident cards and scan their fingertips to bypass customs, according to DHS.
Get the Nextgov iPhone app to keep up with government technology news.