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Indians can now zip through arrivals at US airports via automatic kiosks

Since it began a few years ago, 24,000 applications have been processed, many of them from frequent visitors

Indians can now zip through arrivals at US airports via automatic kiosks

BS Web Team New Delhi
In a manner akin to the DigiYatra for domestic travellers, a limited group of pre-approved Indians can now zip through the international arrivals at US airports through automatic kiosks, skipping lengthy lines and interviews at the immigration counters, reported Times of India (TOI).

The Global Entry Programme (GEP), a US Customs and Border Protection initiative, enables pre-approved "low-risk travellers" from India to obtain a prompt clearance upon arrival through automatic kiosks at these international airports.

Since it began a few years ago, 24,000 applications have been processed, many of them from frequent visitors and relatives of powerful politicians, businessmen, and bureaucrats, sources told TOI.

However, in contrast to the DigiYatra, where Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) inspection is waived with just Aadhaar verification, passing through automatic kiosks at US airports requires a pre-approved applicant to obtain clearances from at least 11 Indian intelligence and enforcement agencies well in advance.

A $100 application fee must be paid before submitting an application online at the US Customs and Border Protection website. The application is then sent to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which serves as the coordinating ministry for the process.

The MEA then sends each application to the participating ministries of home affairs and finance in order to obtain clearances from at least a dozen intelligence and enforcement agencies.

According to the annual report of the Ministry of Finance's department of expenditure, at least 6,073 applications for GEP clearance were processed in 2022-23 alone by Indians. Several meetings have since taken place with law enforcement agencies and the MEA to reduce the pendency time, which frequently exceeds six months.

For the benefit of the participating ministries of finance and home, the MEA has created a platform where it uploads all security clearance applications received from US customs.

The finance ministry has designated the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau as the nodal agency for generating final approval or rejection reports after running the application through the database.

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First Published: Jun 26 2023 | 7:53 PM IST

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