Shahrukh Khan & VIPs Must Go Through Regular US Immigration Process: Official

A officer checks a passenger's luggage and documents

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Washington DC – Despite a written “profound” apology to the Indian Government after detaining Bollywood film star Shahrukh Khan for a second time while entering the United States, one of the top American officials entrusted with entry programs reaffirmed that VIPs visiting the country will have to go through the immigration procedures like everyone else, unless they have diplomatic exemption.

Replying to a question about Shahrukh Khan, John Wagner, the Executive Director of Admissibility and Passenger Programs with US Customs and Border Protection, told journalists that the US was negotiating with other countries for them to do background checks to facilitate entry, but added, “As far as any other process for VIP arrivals, unless they have some type of diplomatic visa or exemption, everyone would go through the same type of process.”

Addressing journalists at the “Know Before you Go,” event at the Foreign Press Center in Washington DC, Wagner said of the entry process, “We don’t want it to be seen as a hassle. We want people to understand the importance of it, and we are keeping people safe, and we want people to have the confidence that it’s safe and secure to come here, and part of those processes is to ensure that.”

Wagner requested the public’s assistance, saying, “We do ask for the public’s patience in helping us help them and make sure all those requirements are met.”

Wagner disclosed that there were ongoing discussions with many governments to work “on a reciprocal basis and some level of agreement on a level of background checks each country will do.”

Wagner explained the strict entry rules and regulations saying, “We want to make sure the arrivals process is as welcoming and friendly as it can be, but also cognizant of our security mission to make sure we’re only letting the right people in, and we’re keeping the people out that should be kept out, really.”

Moreover, the US was working to automate some of the required documents, said Wagner. “We’re looking at our process itself as far as the I-94 documents. We think once we’re able to automate that – and I would hope that will be done later this year,” adding that the process would cut down on waiting time at the arrivals.

The US also had in place programs like Trusted Traveler and Global Entry, for which Washington already had reciprocal agreements with certain countries including “Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Qatar, and soon to be Korea,” said Wagner.

Indians will continue to be required to go through the regular, tedious entry process, as there has been no movement to facilitate entry agreements between the two countries, according to officials. (IATNS)

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