Good news for foreigners visiting India: Get immigration clearance seconds from January; details here

Come January 2019, low-risk foreign travellers will not have to wait in long queues at airport immigration counters as the government plans to install special automated kiosks for speedy document and identity verification. Low-risk travellers from select countries from January 2019 can enter India without standing in long queues at immigration counters as the government has plans to install these automated kiosks, officials said today. These kiosks will ensure smooth entry of foreigners in seconds after verification of antecedents, they said. Electronic gates or e-Gates will be put in place at the arrival wing of international airports where foreigners can present their machine-readable passports, place their fingerprints on the scanner for verification and complete a customs declaration. Without any human intervention, e-cameras will clear the travellers who present approved biometric. They can then go straight to the baggage claim area after de-boarding the plane and then to the exit, a Home Ministry official told PTI. The whole exercise is expected to be completed within a minute a traveller hits any e-Gate kiosk. The foreigners division of the ministry is working on the plan and putting up all logistics before its formal launch sometime later this year, the official said. However, a final decision is yet to be taken on the countries whose citizens the facility would be offered. Initially, we are planning to roll out the service only to the low-risk travellers of a select few countries, another official said. The plan may be a replica of the Global Entry programme of the United States, which also allows low-risk citizens of about a dozen countries, including India, to go through such a hassle-free service. Under the US programme, the traveller just needs to visit the global entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport, place their fingerprints on the scanner for verification and complete a customs declaration. At the end of the process, travellers are issued a transaction receipt by the kiosk after which they are directed to the baggage claim and then to the exit. However, travellers must be pre-approved for the US Global Entry programme. The applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrolment. In 2017, more than one crore foreigners had visited India.