Expedited US Immigration Clearance for non-Citizens

8 replies


United Airlines - Mileage Plus

Member since 29 Jan 2011

Total posts 81

Other than the APEC card, are there any programs that a non-US Citizen can sign up for to obtain expedited immigration clearance at US airports? From what I can tell, the programs that do exist offering this facility requires you to be a US Citizen.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 11 Jan 2013

Total posts 182

There are NEXUS and Global Entry but Australia citizens are not eligable

Chris C.

Member since 24 Apr 2012

Total posts 1,118

I've looked into this after growing tired of waiting at US passport control, and unfortunately, none of these programs are available to Australian citizens living in Australia (and there's no way to register for things like TSA PreCheck, either).

The fastest way through passport control these days would be to use the APC kiosks if you've previously travelled to the US and are eligible (details on the US Gov't website).

However, if, like me, you're not eligible for whatever reason and have to line up for manual processing, there's nothing much you can do but wait.

Even airline concierge staff (such as with AA ConciergeKey) can't escort people through any sort of priority channel at US passport control. One of them commented to me that nearly everybody they assist has Global Entry, but if not, they have no choice but to drop you at the back of the normal queue.

(Unfortunately, the United States doesn't allow journalists travelling for work on the I-type media visa to use the kiosks, nor can journalists enter the USA via the visa-waiver + ESTA system unless genuinely on holidays. Plenty of other visa holders have to line up, too, as do people visiting the USA for the first time on that passport, so it'd be nice if the US had some kind of 'faster' option for all Australian travellers, such as opening up Global Entry, particularly when Australia gives US passport holders access to SmartGate on arrival in Australia...)

Last editedby Chris C. at Mar 07, 2018, 05:40 PM.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 29 Nov 2013

Total posts 454

ESTA is actually pretty good. Last couple of times through LAX I've been able to get to a kiosk, and find a short line. From memory the wait time was around 15mins.

The issue at LAX when inbound from Australia is whether you beat the myriad of Asian flights into LAX. If you're behind them then all bets are off..!



Member since 19 Apr 2012

Total posts 726

Going via DFW saves a lot of queues even on the visa I was required to have it was fast as I was the onlly person in the queue


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 09 May 2013

Total posts 408

I went through DFW last week, everyone with ESTA had to use the kiosk, there were no officers (immigration) anywhere. LAX should be avoided as much as possible even with kiosk. I'm assuming the australian govt has to initiate steps for us to be added to global entry?



Member since 04 Apr 2014

Total posts 136

What’s with all the endless LAX hate. I have a paper visa and have been on the street outside TB 30 minutes from hitting the gate twice in the last year, and never more than 1hr. Seriously, the kiosks have made a huge difference.

The longest line these days is often exiting the baggage hall and even then they’ve stepped out of their booths and sped that process up. it’s not much different now to the same area in Melbourne.

Actually, leaving LAX is generally the much worse than arriving. TSA is both slow and poorly organized at the security point, often only operating one of the two available areas. I’ve seen every passenger have to go by one person checking passports. Crazy.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 22 Feb 2018

Total posts 8

I avoid LAX wherever possible - the rush to clear immigration and reboard the QF JFK flight is miserable. Cathay all the way - HKG-JFK is a great flight - and with a midnight departure BNE-HKG you get into JFK at a much better time.


Member since 05 Mar 2015

Total posts 24

As Chris points out, those traveling on an Australian passport are alas ineligible for US trusted traveller programs at this time. However, since we've been reminded lately that many Aussies are dual citizens, at least if they usually fly out of CBR, it's worth pointing out that the US isn't the only country on the list for US trusted traveller membership. The three programs granting expedited border crossing at airports in the United States are Global Entry, NEXUS, and Sentri. At airport points of entry, benefits are provided to all three programs without distinction under the Global Entry brand, but you can be a member of any of these programs to receive the benefit. Their eligibility varies as follows:

Global Entry—citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, South Korea, and nationals of Mexico.

NEXUS—citizens and nationals of the United States and Canada, as well as lawful permanent residents of both countries

SENTRI—citizens and nationals of the United States and its lawful permanent residents.

In short, in order to receive expedited immigration clearance, you must possess nationality of the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, or South Korea. You are additionally eligible if you do not possess any of these nationalities, but are considered a lawful permanent resident of the United States or Canada. So it's perhaps a silver lining for those late of the Senate benches that they'll be zipping through US immigration in no-time (except for dual kiwi Sen. Ludlum, bad luck I'm afraid).

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