NEW DELHI: At last an end seems in sight to the kind of treatment meted out by US immigration authorities to Indian VVIPs, including former President late APJ Abdul Kalam and film star Shah Rukh Khan, who were subjected to strip search at American airports. India may soon become part of a US Global Entry programme (GEP) that allows expedited clearance for eminent persons, upon arrival.
According to sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is all set to get a concession from the Obama administration, and join the select community of countries on the US GEP list that is allowed hassle-free entry at several US airports.
Sources said the government is preparing a list of 2,000 personalities that will be forwarded to the US. The first batch is likely to include former Prime Ministers and Presidents, film stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, industrialists like the Ambani brothers, Gautam Adani, Ratan Tata, and other VVIPs like Sachin Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Azim Premji, and NR Narayanamurthy. “This list may extend to 15,000 persons in due course for which the US government has given the nod, but the Indian government wants to go slow and see how it works,” a source said.
Those in the GEP list enter US through global entry kiosks, present their passport to complete the verification process including customs declaration. The kiosks issue transaction receipts.
As of December 2014, global entry was available at 12 pre-clearance locations and at 42 US airports. The GEP has over 1.8 million members, from countries including Germany, Netherlands, Panama, South Korea and Mexico. Though India was offered membership to the US Global Entry Trusted Traveller Network Programme in September 2013, the US government continued to deem Indian citizens ineligible for application to the programme.