Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports. The program is designed to streamline the entry process and reduce wait times, making travel more convenient and efficient for those who frequently travel internationally. However, eligibility for Global Entry is strict, and certain criminal convictions can disqualify an applicant.

At Carlson, Meissner & Hayslett, we know exactly how a criminal conviction can affect your ability to travel freely. In this blog, we'll explore which criminal convictions can impact the ability to obtain or retain Global Entry and what steps individuals can take if they find themselves disqualified.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a trusted traveler program that provides expedited entry into the United States for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Approved members can bypass the traditional inspection lines and use automated kiosks at select airports
  • The program is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and citizens of certain other countries
  • To become a Global Entry member, applicants must complete a rigorous background check and in-person interview

Criminal Convictions that Affect Global Entry Eligibility

Because the CBP conducts a thorough background check on all Global Entry applicants, a criminal history can severely impact an individual’s eligibility. Here are some key examples of disqualifying criminal convictions:

1. Felony Convictions

Felony convictions are among the most serious offenses and typically result in automatic disqualification from Global Entry. Felonies include a wide range of crimes, such as:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Armed robbery
  • Aggravated assault

These convictions indicate a high level of risk and a significant concern for public safety, making it unlikely for such individuals to be approved for a trusted traveler program.

2. Drug-Related Offenses

Disqualifying drug-related convictions include possession, distribution, trafficking, or manufacturing of controlled substances. Even a misdemeanor drug conviction, such as possession of a small amount of marijuana, can result in denial. The CBP views drug offenses as serious violations that compromise the integrity of the trusted traveler programs.

3. Crimes Involving Fraud or Deception

Criminal convictions involving fraud, deception, or identity theft are particularly concerning for Global Entry eligibility. These crimes indicate a propensity for dishonest behavior, which is directly at odds with the trust required for Global Entry membership.

Examples of disqualifying convictions include the following:

  • Credit card fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Insurance fraud
  • Similar offenses

4. Theft and Property Crimes

Disqualifying convictions for theft and property crimes include the following:

  • Burglary
  • Larceny
  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism

While sometimes categorized as less severe than violent crimes, these crimes still negatively reflect an individual's character and trustworthiness. Depending on the severity and recency of the offense, such convictions may result in denial.

5. Domestic Violence and Assault

Domestic violence and assault convictions demonstrate a potential for violent behavior, which is a significant concern for the CBP when granting access to expedited entry programs. Any history of violence, especially in a domestic context, is taken seriously in the evaluation process.

6. DUI and DWI Convictions

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) convictions can impact Global Entry eligibility. While these offenses may not always be felonies, they reflect poor judgment and a disregard for public safety. Multiple DUI or DWI convictions or recent offenses are particularly likely to result in denial.

7. Sex Offenses

Disqualifying sex offenses include the following:

  • Sexual assault
  • Child pornography
  • Other related crimes

These are severe crimes with significant legal and social implications, and the CBP maintains a zero-tolerance policy for individuals with such convictions.

8. Immigration Violations

Previous violations of immigration laws, such as illegal entry or overstaying a visa, can also lead to disqualification. CBP views these offenses as breaches of trust and compliance with U.S. laws.

Appealing a Denial or Revocation

If you believe your Global Entry application was wrongfully denied or your membership was unfairly revoked due to a criminal conviction, you have the right to appeal. The appeal process involves submitting a written appeal to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman, which should include the following:

  • A detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding the conviction
  • Evidence of mitigating factors or rehabilitation
  • Any relevant supporting documentation, such as character references, certificates of completion for rehabilitation programs, and employment records

At Carlson, Meissner & Hayslett, our attorneys are skilled in handling appeals and can help you present a compelling case. We will work closely with you to gather all necessary documentation and provide the strongest possible argument for your eligibility.

Mitigating Factors and Rehabilitation

While certain convictions typically result in disqualification, CBP may consider mitigating factors and evidence of rehabilitation in some cases. Factors that may influence a decision include:

  • Time Elapsed: The amount of time that has passed since the conviction can be a mitigating factor. Offenses committed many years ago, particularly if the individual has demonstrated good behavior since, may be viewed more leniently.
  • Nature of the Offense: Minor offenses or those committed under extenuating circumstances may be considered less severe.
  • Evidence of Rehabilitation: Participation in rehabilitation programs, community service, stable employment, and positive societal contributions can all support an application or appeal.

Carlson, Meissner & Hayslett: Your Legal Partners in Securing Global Entry Despite Criminal Convictions

A criminal conviction can significantly impact your ability to obtain or retain Global Entry status. Understanding which offenses are disqualifiers and what steps you can take to present a strong case for eligibility is crucial. By demonstrating rehabilitation and providing compelling evidence, you may still have a chance to benefit from the conveniences of Global Entry.

For expert legal assistance with your Global Entry application or appeal, contact Carlson, Meissner & Hayslett. Our experienced attorneys are committed to helping you overcome legal challenges and achieve your travel goals.

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