After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a cer...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Trusted Traveler Programs (or TTPs) allow members to use expedited lanes at U.S. airports and when crossing international borders. They are specifically set up to preapprove “low-risk” travelers, and each applicant must meet a set of minimum requirements in order to be approved.
You may have spent time filling out an application for one of these TTPs, such as Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, paid your non-refundable application fee, and are anxiously awaiting your new status, only to find out that your application was denied! You aren’t alone. About 1% of all applications received by Global Entry and TSA PreCheck applications are denied.
So what happened? Why were you denied membership? How will you be notified of this denial? And is there anything you can do to make U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reconsider?
In some cases, you may have already had membership in a TTP and were notified that your membership was revoked. What might have happened to cause you to lose your status?
Whether you’re applying for the first time or renewing, or your status has been revoked, read on for all of the details about membership denials or revocations for all 5 Trusted Traveler Programs.
So you’re waiting to hear if your application to be a part of a TTP was approved. Or maybe you already have a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership and you’re notified that it’s been revoked. So what happens next? Well, if you’re approved, you’re good to go. Otherwise, here’s what will happen.
As soon as your application is denied or membership revoked, you will receive a follow-up letter electronically through your TTP account that you used to submit your application.
This letter will include more details about the reason for this denial, however, it may not always be spelled out in great detail. For example, your letter might simply state that you “No Longer Meet Eligibility Requirements.” We’ll break down what this might mean as we discuss the common reasons for having your membership revoked or renewal not approved.
Unfortunately, the application fee that you paid ($50 to $122.25, depending on the program) is non-refundable — even in the case of a denial. You won’t receive a refund for any fees paid.
There is an appeals process to dispute a decision, but it differs based on the TTP you applied for. We’ll break down the steps of the appeals process towards the end of this article.
CBP doesn’t typically make information regarding the TTP denials public, but it did respond to a Freedom of Information Act request back in 2017. The report it issued details each instance where membership was denied or revoked from November 6, 2016, t0 June 6, 2017, and gives us a lot of insight into recurring themes.
We’ve taken this information and broken it down into the 4 most common reasons TTP status is taken away or not granted in the first place:
Generally, you’ll want to disclose every pending or prior conviction on your record as a part of your application, no matter how old. If something is discovered later or you have a recent conviction (even if you’ve already been approved), your membership could be denied (or revoked).
Things like DUIs don’t automatically disqualify you from being approved as long as they’re over 10 years old, but there are some types of convictions that are permanently disqualifying. A list of permanently disqualifying convictions isn’t clearly documented anywhere and seems to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
You could also have your application denied if derogatory information was received from another country — meaning, any trouble you run into abroad could impact your membership in a TTP.
This category is a big repeat offender on the CBP list. For example, not declaring:
All of the following can land you with a fine from CBP AND a TTP denial or membership revocation.
Just to be safe, check your bags for items your might have unintentionally left behind, including snacks from the plane. And if you do bring something back, just be sure you note it on your customs form upon arrival.
Upon arrival back into the U.S., it’s important to be on your best behavior. Things like cutting in line or trying to bring family members who don’t have Global Entry to the kiosk can have big repercussions.
Hot Tip: This might mean you have to fill out separate CBP Customs Declaration forms if you have Global Entry and your other family members do not.
In addition, if you’re using your Global Entry card to enter the U.S. using an expedited travel lane at a land crossing, everyone in the car needs to have Global Entry status, too. Depending on the agent you encounter, breaking these rules can result in your membership being revoked — even if it’s an accident!
Going hand in hand with the item above, but encompassing a bit more, if you decide to take your frustrations out on a CBP or TSA agent, know that your TTP status could be revoked. If you are also not forthcoming during your TTP interview, this could also be considered uncooperative behavior as well.
As COVID-19 and mask mandates weren’t around when this report was issued in 2017, we are just making an educated guess here, but if you refuse to wear a mask while going through TSA security or on a plane, this might also result in your losing your TTP status.
The main reasons to join Global Entry (GE) include:
Once granted, you will have all of the benefits of Global Entry for 5 years.
Hot Tip: See our in-depth article to see all of the benefits and steps required to get Global Entry status: The Global Entry Program: From Application to Airport [+ Map of Locations & Kiosks].
U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and citizens of select countries are eligible to apply for Global Entry. If you are under the age of 18, you must have your parent or legal guardian’s consent to participate in the program.
You must meet certain criteria (that CBP doesn’t make public) in order to deem you a “low-risk” traveler. Keep in mind that you don’t simply have to meet the eligibility requirements BEFORE you apply. You must remain eligible at all points during your 5-year membership.
The CBP website notes that “Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.” But what does that mean?
Specifically, you are deemed ineligible and will have your membership denied (or revoked) if you do any of the following:
This last category appears to be a catch-all, but you can see that there are many reasons you can be denied. And as a reminder, if any of the items above change, your status can be revoked at any point in your membership.
See our list of the top 4 reasons your status may get denied or revoked in the section above for some specific examples.
The main reasons to join the TSA PreCheck program include:
Once granted, you will have all of the benefits of TSA PreCheck for 5 years.
TSA PreCheck is only open to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents. Children aged 12 and under are free with a parent or guardian. Children aged 13 to 17 may accompany a TSA PreCheck-approved parent when they are on the same reservation and have the TSA PreCheck designation on their boarding pass.
TSA notes that applicants may be ineligible due to “incomplete or false application information, violations of transportation security regulations, or disqualifying criminal offenses and factors.”
TSA breaks down disqualifying offenses into 3 categories:
See the full TSA list of disqualifying offenses for more details.
The main reasons you’d want to be a member of the SENTRI program are to reduce wait times at ports of entry using:
Once granted, you will have all of the benefits of SENTRI for 5 years.
There are no citizenship or age requirements to qualify for SENTRI membership. If you are under 18, you must have your parent or legal guardian’s consent to apply.
CBP notes that you are no longer considered eligible if you:
The biggest violations for SENTRI memberships are related to customs violations. You will not only pay a fine but will have your SENTRI membership revoked.
The main reasons you’d want to be a member of the NEXUS program are to reduce wait times at ports of entry using:
Once granted, you will have all of the benefits of NEXUS for 5 years from your next birthday.
U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, Canadian citizens, Canadian lawful permanent residents, and Mexican nationals who are members of Viajero Confiable are eligible to apply for membership in the NEXUS program. If you are under 18, you must have your parent or legal guardian’s consent to apply.
NEXUS is slightly different from other TTPs as you’ll need to have both the U.S. and Canada approve your application. Denial of an application by either country will prevent you from participating in the NEXUS program.
As far as disqualifying items, if you do any of the following, you are no longer considered eligible for the program:
Not as well-known as the programs above, Free and Secure Trade (FAST) is a program specifically for commercial truck drivers entering and exiting the U.S. from Canada and Mexico. You can apply for FAST North or FAST South, depending on your needs.
Primarily, you will benefit from the use of designated FAST lanes to more quickly transport goods into the U.S.
U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, Canadian citizens, Canadian lawful permanent residents, and Mexican nationals who are 18 years or older and possess a valid driver’s license are eligible for a FAST membership.
As far as disqualifying items, if you do any of the following, you are no longer considered eligible for the program:
If you’ve been denied membership or had your membership revoked, this decision doesn’t have to be final. You can appeal this decision and ask your case to be reviewed again. Or maybe you don’t feel that you were given sufficient information regarding why your application was denied or your membership revoked?
Either way, the process is similar, no matter which TTP you had your membership revoked or denied with. In order to appeal your TTP membership decision or get more information, you’ll want to:
1. Gather all of your documents together, including:
Hot Tip: Appeals are done on a case-by-case basis and the information required to appeal will be different. For instance, if you have a 20-year-old DUI that was the cause of your denial, you might want to include details about how you’ve been rehabilitated since then and note that you’ve had no other incidents that would deem you “high-risk.”
2. Write a letter to the local Enrollment Center where your interview took place
3. Write a letter to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Attn: CBP Ombudsman
P.O. Box 946
Williston, VT 05495
According to the L.A. Times, this appeals process can take “as much as 8 months,” but could be even longer now due to delays related to COVID-19.
Ultimately, the U.S. government views membership in a TTP as a privilege rather than a right and it reserves the right to deny your application or revoke your membership for any number of reasons. Unfortunately, there’s not always a clear set of guidelines to follow when it comes to denials, revoked memberships, or even the appeals process.
If you have had your membership in a TTP revoked or denied, start by reviewing the information you were given. See if this information was erroneous or you otherwise believe you have a case for the decision to be appealed. Contact your local enrollment center to get more information regarding your denial or membership revocation. Hopefully, you can make your case that you are a low-risk traveler and renew your trusted traveler program status soon!
Your Global Entry could have been revoked due to fact that you are no longer eligible due to new or previously unknown incidents, a new customs or immigration violation, or even information told to CBP by other countries. You will receive a letter detailing the reasons that your membership was revoked through your TTP account.
If your TSA PreCheck membership was revoked, TSA could have learned of information that changes you from a low-risk traveler to a high-risk traveler. This could be due to new or previously unknown information related to incidents or prior arrests, or new charges, among other things. You will get a letter in your TTP account that details the reasons your membership was revoked.
If you have lost your TSA PreCheck status, you can appeal this decision. You’ll need to gather your documents, including information you think may help your appeal, and submit it to TSA and/or the ombudsman in charge of your case. Details on how to do this and what to include in your appeal are listed in the article above.
If you have lost your Global Entry membership due to a change in your eligibility status, you can still appeal this decision. We have complete details on the process you’ll need to take in the article above, but in short, you’ll have to convince CBP that you are still a “low-risk” traveler. How you will do this will depend on why your status was revoked in the first place.
There are certain offenses that are temporary and will bar you from being eligible for TSA PreCheck. Most of these offenses restrict you from membership from between 5 and 7 years. Others will result in a permanent disqualification.
For a full list of disqualifying offenses and associated time frames, see the full TSA list.
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