11 June 2012

Celebrities receive no special US visa treatment

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US immigration officials have said there will be no special treatment for international celebrities when they arrive at American airports and will be subject to the same US visa and security checks as everyone else.

US visa

Indian actor Shahrukh Khan was held at Newark Airport despite having a vaild US visa.

The promise comes two months after Indian superstar Shahruk Khan was stopped in Newark Airport and subjected to extra US visa checks and security questioning for over an hour. Officials in Washington claim that celebrity status will not exempt anyone from due and proper care when it comes to national security.

"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," said John Wagner, executive director of Admissibility and Passenger Programmes with the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

"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.

"So we do ask for the public's patience in helping us help them and make sure all those requirements are met."

America's relationship with India is cooling due to US immigration issues with India lodging a formal complaint to the World Trade Organisation over an unprecedented rise in rejections for US visa applicants which India claims amounts to discrimination.

The US has rejected claims of discrimination and expressed 'profound' apologies in the case with Mr Khan and was invited to a dinner with then governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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