Depending on which airport you enter the United States after completing a foreign trip, going through immigration when you reenter the Country can be a long affair. For $100, you won't have to rush out of the airplane, run past everyone else in order to get to immigration as fast as you can, because you'll be able to bypass those lines and breeze right through, while everyone else on your flight( and maybe a couple of others which landed just before yours ), is waiting on line at immigration. The US has a program called Global Entry which allows you to do just that. Once you've been granted Trusted Traveler status, Global Entry, allows you to stick your passport in a special kiosk, complete your customs declaration as well, and go. Takes about a minute to do, with NO lines. In addition, being a trusted traveler allows you to participate in the TRS pre-screening program, where you no longer will have to remove your shoes,show your 3-1-1 compliant bag from your carry-on, remove your laptop fro its bag, remove your light outerwear/jacket and your belt. Showing your status card also allows you go to the special area for these participants, again avoiding the line at security. Unfortunately, the TRS pre-screening at this time only applies to domestic flights. You do this by entering your Trusted Traveler number, called a PASSID in your boarding information with your airline, so that it is printed on your boarding pass.
The application procedure MUST be completed on-line, and is cumbersome. Be prepared to have the following information handy: Your passport number, your document number from your birth certificate, your driver's license ID, expiration dates of any of the above, if applicable, a list of every country you've visited in the last five years, a list of your employment history, even if you're retired. You may or may not need all of the information depending on which prompt you get, but you could conceivably need all. After completing the application, paying the non-refundable $100( which covers the initial background check ), in a few days, IF you're approved, you'll get a return e-mail inviting you to an interview, where any information you may have omitted from your application will be checked, be asked some questions about the information on your application, and be photographed and finger printed and shown how to use the system, if you are granted final approval. There are interview sites located throughout the country, many at international airports, however, there are others.
If you're a couple, we recommend that you complete the application process for both of you at the same time. This can take you a long time( it took us half a day ), because then you'll get conditional approval at the same time, and will be able to arrange for you personal interview at the same time( each ingterview slot can accommodate more than one person ). The Trusted Traveler status is good for 5 years. Since the program is new at this time, there are no guidelines as to how this can be transferred to a new passport if your current one expires before the five year Trusted Traveler expiration date. If you travel enough, it may be worth your while, especially if you enter the country at LAX( which has notoriously long lines at immigration ).