Business Executive Program Discontinued in India01 Apr 2015
Effective April 1, 2015, the U.S. embassy and consulates in India will be retiring the Business Executive Program (BEP). This program, which was created in the 1990s, was a U.S. government effort to facilitate business travel through registration and recognition of established companies.
BEP Service Benefits
The BEP made it easier for employees of companies enrolled in the program to obtain B-1 visa appointments and provided the companies with a dedicated BEP helpdesk. Membership in the BEP was by invitation only, and members included many Fortune 1000, S&P 500, and Sensex 100 businesses.
Reason for Discontinuing BEP
As explained in the online announcement of the end of the BEP program, the reason the program is being discontinued is because the conditions in India have greatly changed in the two decades or so since the BEP was initiated. To that end, the consulates promise to “…forg[e] a new business model that will accord all legitimate business travelers the same level of support with the same degree of timeliness and responsiveness…” The announcement further notes that consular officials will continue to work on ways to facilitate business travel by providing visa processing workshops and by reaching out to local business leaders.
While new BEP appointments will not be taken for B-1 visa interviews after April 1st, appointments already scheduled will be honored. Appointment slots that had been previously reserved only for BEP company employees will be made available to B-1 visa applicants from all Indian-based companies. The consulates may also take appointment slots typically reserved for H and L visa applicants and open them up for B-1 interviews, as needed, to reduce wait times for B-1 appointments.
The BEP was an asset to well-established companies based in India that regularly needed to send employees to the United States for business travel. On the other hand, working to provide high levels of service for all business travelers seeking to enter the U.S. is an admirable goal. It remains to be seen, however, whether the consulates will be able to meet this objective adequately, in practice.
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