Indians Will Now Get Speedy Immigration Security Clearance at US Airports After MoU Between India-USA
In 2009, when Shahrukh Khan was detained at New Jersey’s Newark International Airport for more than an hour, there was a huge uproar in India. He was detained because of his surname ‘Khan’, and USA had to face accusations of racism. When he was again detained in 2011 for 90 minutes at White Plains airport near New York., then all hell broke loose and Indian Govt. and US embassy had to intervene in-order to avoid a huge diplomatic embarrassment.
Even former President of India, Abdul J Kalam and Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan had to face undue security checks and delays at US Airports due to either their name, religion or nationality.
Last year, India & USA decided to form a list of 2000 VVIPs (Very Very Important Persons) so that such celebrities are not hassled at US airports. Names such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan etc were included in the list, for providing them smooth entry and exit from US airports.
Now, extending this ‘privilege’ of hassle free security clearance for Indians, India and USA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will ensure that pre-approved and ‘low-risk’ Indians are allowed to enter US without any hassles.
The MoU was signed between Arun K Singh, who is the Indian Ambassador to US, and Kevin K McAleenan, Deputy Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection.
USA’s Special Program for Safe Global Citizens
USA has an exclusive program called International Expedited Traveller Initiative, which is also known as the Global Entry Programme for creating hassle-free entry for those nationals which are pre-approved as low risk and safe.
India is only the 9th such country to have received this privilege of being part of this special program by US. After this MoU, ‘low-risk’ Indians would be able to seamlessly enter USA from 40 odd US airports which are part of the Global Entry Programme; along with 12 preclearance locations.
If we speak globally, then 18 lakh travellers are already enrolled into this program, and 50,000 new applications are received every month to get included into this special privilege scheme from USA.
Hence, from now on, pre-approved Indian travellers, who are designated as ‘low-risk’ would be allowed to swiftly enter at selected US airports without elongated security checks and unnecessary hassles.
As per foreign relations experts, India has able to secure this exclusive privilege only after warm relationships with USA fostered after PM Modi’s visits in the last few months.
After PM Modi visited USA, several other initiatives were taken to ease travel between the two countries: for instance, US will now issue long term visas for NRIs who are looking to visit India and e-visa facility for US tourists who are visiting India.
Global Entry Programme is seen as an extension of this warm relationship between two of the World’s largest democracies.
Arun K Singh said after signing MoU: “Expedited entry for the Indian travellers under this programme at the US airports will enable further easing of travel environment, and will have positive impact on all kinds of people-to-people exchange between our two countries,”
Image: Tami Chappell / Reuters