U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released performance reports for FY2021 Q1 (October to December 2020) including data on EB-5 receipts and adjudications. Although the data shows that USCIS processing times could certainly be improved, EB-5 investors will be happy to know that I-526 and I-829 approval rates remained high.
Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how many I-526 petitions were filed in Q1 of FY2021 as USCIS’ report simply lists “D” in place of I-526 receipts. “D” stands for “data withheld to protect applicants’ privacy”, but it is unclear why USCIS did not report total I-526 receipts for Q1.
A more positive take away from the report is that the approval rate of I-526 petitions continues to climb. USCIS reports that it adjudicated 1,123 I-526 petitions in FY2021 Q1 a slight drop from Q4 FY2020 which saw 1,140 petitions adjudicated. However compared to the previous quarter, approvals were up, with 1,004 or 89% of I-526 petitions adjudicated in FY2021 Q1 being approved, as opposed to only 79% being approved in FY2020 Q4.
USCIS data shows that I-829 receipts were down significantly in FY2021 Q1, however this likely does not correlate to a drop in demand. More likely is that the drop in receipts can be explained by COVID-19 and the disruptions it caused to USCIS processing last year.
While I-829 receipts were down, processing productivity only fell slightly, with USCIS processing 682 applications in FY2021 Q1. Approval rates of I-829 petitions also remain exceptionally high, with a 94% approval rate in FY2021 Q1.
Takeaways for Investors
Although USCIS processing times still leave much to be desired, investors should be encouraged by the data we see on I-526 petitions and I-829 applications. I-536 and I-829 approval rates remain high and EB-5 investors are getting their US residency, albeit slower than they should be. However, with EB-5 reform on the horizon, and new leadership dedicated to improving the immigration system, faster processing times will be a priority and hopefully investors will see results soon.
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