NEW DELHI: India and the United States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding during the recent visit by PM Narendra Modi to Washington that could, when implemented, carry very good news for all Indians.

This agreement provides for expedited security clearances to facilitate hassle-free entry of Indians into the United States at selected airports. The MoU was signed between Indian Ambassador to the US Arun K Singh and Kevin K McAleenan, Deputy Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection.

The MoU is another progress towards building the relationship between the two nations. Significantly, India is only the ninth country with which the US has entered into this International Expedited Travelers Initiative also known as the Global Entry Program. However, the move would take a few months to implement.

This can be seen as enhancing strategic partnership between the United States and India.

“Expedited entry for the Indian travelers under this program at the US airports will enable further easing of travel environment, and will have positive impact on all kinds of people-to-people exchange between our two countries,” Arun K Singh said at the MoU signing ceremony.

Currently, Global Entry Program is available at more than 40 US airports and 12 preclearance locations. More than 1.8 million people are enrolled in Global Entry and approximately 50,000 new applications for the program are filed every month.

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Airports like Toronto Pearson International Airport , Vancouver International Airport , Washington-Dulles International Airport , Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB), Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW), Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), Portland International Airport (PDX), Lambert - St. Louis International Airport (STL), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas (LAS), Miami International Airport (MIA), Milwaukee - General Mitchell International Airport (MKE), Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP), Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), Edmonton International Airport (YEG), Fairbanks International Airport (FAI), Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL), George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (IAH), Guam International Airport (GUM), Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Honolulu International Airport (HNL), John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York (JFK), Austin - Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS) to name a few, are the Member states that can enter the United States through automatic kiosks.

At the airports, program members get under way to Global Entry kiosks, show their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete the customs declaration. The kiosk issues a traveler transaction receipt and instructs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit. This demands no processing lines, no paperwork, provides access to expedited entry benefits in other countries, reduces wait times.

While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. It also states that any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.

Seeing the strong educational and cultural bonds shared between the two, the leaders emphasized on the increasing number of Indian students studying in the United States, which marked up by 29 percent to nearly 133,000 students in 2014-2015, and looked forward to boost opportunities for American students to study in India.

Referring to several various actions that have been taken by the Modi government for easing travel from the United States to India, which includes issuance of long term visas and introduction of electronic-tourist visas for US citizens, the leaders announced that the United States and India will be Travel and Tourism Partner Countries for 2017, and committed to facilitate visas for each other's nationals. The Indian ambassador also added that fortifying people-to-people ties between the two countries has been at the very core of PM Modi’s vision of Indo-US ties.