When you arrive in the USA you need to make your way to the immigration hall, where you will find long lines. After standing in line for an hour or more, you are treated like a criminal: you are photographed and fingerprinted. Then you will be released into the baggage claim and customs hall.
The bright side is that your bag may already have arrived on the belt (if no one else took it). Once you have your bag you can line up for customs. Welcome in the USA.
There is another way - if you are a national of the right country and are prepared to pay a price – by participating in the US Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Global Entry program. Nationals of Australia, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the UK are eligible to apply for Global Entry membership,
Each eligible country has its own procedure. If you are a German national, for example, you must first be cleared by the German Federal Police. Next, you can apply online and pay the $100 (€89) non-refundable application fee.
Once your application is reviewed, you will receive a message in your GOES account instructing you to schedule within 30 days an interview that will be held at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers in the USA, Canada, Qatar or (from September 26, 2016) in London, UK. A CBP officer will ask you questions, take your photo, and collect biometric information like your fingerprints. When approved, your membership in the Global Entry program lasts for 5 years. However, it is contingent upon a second clearing within 2 years.
For citizens of the other countries listed above other procedures apply. Global Entry is available to citizens of the Netherlands who are enrolled in FLUX and Korean Smart Entry Service members. Citizens of Panama and Mexico may also apply for Global Entry. Canadian NEXUS members have Global Entry benefits, but are not eligible to join.
On arrival at one of the US airports with Global Entry Kiosks Global Entry members can proceed to a kiosk, present their machine-readable passport, place their fingerprints on the scanner for verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and customs.
When traveling within the USA you will often be allowed to use the US Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Precheck lanes where available. They offer an expedited screening process as was normal before 9/11. Thus, you can keep on your shoes, belt and light jacket and leave your laptop in your carry-on bag.