India-US Sign Pact For Hassle-Free US Entry For Indians

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New Delhi: Come August, Indian citizens will be able to apply for entry into Global Entry, a US Customs and Border Protection programme that permits speedy clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travellers upon arrival in America.

The facility will be offered to Indians as per an agreement signed by India and the US last fortnight to facilitate hassle-free entry of Indians into America at selected airports.

“Hopefully, by the end of July or first week of August, Indian citizens can apply before an US consulate for entry under the Global Entry,” a senior Home Ministry official said.

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The final decision on taking an Indian into Global Entry is the prerogative of the US authorities, which screen the background of each applicant before allowing the entry.

High dignitaries like former presidents, former prime ministers, former Union ministers, film stars, top industrialists and frequent flyers are expected to be enrolled under at the beginning.

Initially, the names of around 2,000 prominent Indians could figure in the coveted list, which would be expanded gradually after proper background checks of each individual.

Individuals included in the list enter the US through automatic kiosks at select airports. At airports, programme members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine- readable passport, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveller a transaction receipt and directs the traveller to baggage claim and the exit.

Two important conditions for inclusion of an individual in the Global Entry programme are that he or she should not have any criminal record or be in anyway connected with a money laundering case.

India is only the ninth country with which the US has entered into this International Expedited Traveller Initiative (also known as the Global Entry Programme).

Currently, Global Entry is available at around 40 US airports and 12 pre-clearance locations. More than 1.8 million people are enrolled in Global Entry and approximately 50,000 new applications for the programme are filed every month.