VIPs have to go through immigration procedures, says US (Lead)

June 8th, 2012 - 4:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Shah Rukh Khan Washington, June 8 (IANS) The US is in discussions with various countries to smoothen travel and avoid incidents like the detaining of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, but insists that VIPs have to go through the usual immigration procedures like everyone else unless they have diplomatic exemption.

For “process for VIP arrivals, unless they have some type of, say, diplomatic visa or exemption, everyone would go through the same type of process,” a US official said.

“We don’t want it to be seen as a hassle,” John Wagner, executive director of US customs and border protection’s office of field operations, admissibility and passenger programmes told foreign reporters Thursday.

“It works on a reciprocal basis and some level of agreement on a level of background checks each country will do.”

“So, it’s a matter of whether we can reach agreement with those countries and they’re willing and able to do the types of checks, and we can negotiate a threshold for qualifying our participation in that,” said Wagner.

But Wagner made clear that as far as the “process for VIP arrivals, unless they have some type of, say, diplomatic visa or exemption, everyone would go through the same type of process. We don’t want it to be seen as a hassle.”

He also asked “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 ensure that.”

“So, we do ask for the public’s patience in helping us help them and make sure all those requirements are met.”

However, Wagner said, he was “not aware of anything right now” about any kind of programme or negotiations going on with India regarding travellers from that country.

Shah Rukh Khan was detained at New York airport for two hours in April as he arrived to visit Yale University. In August 2009 too, Khan was stopped at the Newark airport and was released after two hours at the intervention of the Indian consulate in New York.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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