- Fast-Track Visa Program Discontinued at U.S. Consulates in India
- April 8, 2015
- Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
- The U.S. Mission to India announced today that it will terminate the Business Executive Program (BEP) after April 1, 2015. BEP member companies will no longer receive priority visa appointments or other program benefits at U.S. consulates in India. Instead, they will use the consulates’ standard online system to schedule visa interviews after April 1.
The BEP offered a dedicated appointment system and other services to organizations with a significant presence in India and a high rate of U.S. business visa usage.
Citing improvements to its scheduling systems and other functions, the U.S. Mission to India has decided that the BEP is no longer necessary. It has also concluded that the BEP’s strict membership criteria unnecessarily excluded many organizations.
Termination of the BEP comes after a long period of scrutiny. In recent years, BEP member companies were subject to more stringent reporting obligations and, in 2011, the consulates suspended the membership of a number of organizations - some because they failed to file the minimum number of visa applications required for participation and some because of alleged misuse of the program.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
BEP member companies will have their visa appointment system log-ins disabled after April 1, though the consulates will continue to honor BEP appointments scheduled to take place after that date. After April 1, all visa applicants in India must use the standard appointment system to schedule their interviews. To minimize wait-times, the consulates will set aside blocks of time for H-1B and L-1 visa appointments each day.