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No free pass to celebrities, VIPs at US airports

world Updated: Jun 09, 2012 11:03 IST

Against the backdrop of Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan's detention at a New York airport, the US has ruled out any separate screening for VIPs and celebrities unless they have diplomatic exemption.

The US however said it is in talks with several countries to facilitate hassle-free immigration procedures but India is not among those.

"I'm not aware of anything right now," John Wagner, executive director of admissibility and passenger programmes with the US customs and border protection, told foreign journalists when asked if the US was holding any talks with India to facilitate quick and hassle-free immigration procedures for people coming from India.

However, US citizens and those holding permanent residency can apply under the "global entry" programme, under which once cleared by the federal authorities, an individual would not have to go through the immigration officer, but would have to use the services of a touch-screen kiosk to enter the country.

"As far as any other, say, 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," Wagner said in response to a question.

"We want people to understand the importance of it, and we are keeping people safe, and it's – 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. So we do ask for the public's patience in helping us help them and make sure all those requirements are met," he said when his attention was drawn to the inconvenience caused to VIPs and celebrities at airports in the US.