USCIS has released data on EB-5 processing for FY2021 Q2 (January to March 2021). While the EB-5 program may be temporarily on hold until congress acts to renew it, it’s still worthwhile to examine the latest data on processing of investor’s petitions.
Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, is the form all EB-5 investors initially submit when applying for an EB-5 visa. Unfortunately, receipts of I-526 petitions remain low, with only 98 submitted in Q2, and only 189 submitted in total during FY2021. While the I-526 have increased quarter over quarter since they dropped to only 21 receipts in FY2020 Q2 they still haven’t come close to their numbers pre-2020. One explanation for the low receipts in FY2021 Q2 is investor anxiety about the renewal of the EB-5 regional center program. While all signs point to the program being renewed in the future, many investors may not have felt comfortable committing to their investment so close to the program’s June 30 sunset.
I-526 processing unfortunately also dropped slightly, with USCIS adjudicating 882 petitions during Q2. However, considering the recent progress made by USCIS in clearing out the backlog of Chinese and Vietnamese investors waiting to receive their Visa, it’s likely that this drop in processing was only an outlier.
Approval rates also remain high for I-526 petitions, with USCIS approving 85% of petitions in FY2021 Q2, and approving 87% of all I-526 petitions in FY2021.
Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, is filed by EB-5 investors who have received their EB-5 visa and conditional two year green card to become unconditional permanent residents. Investors filing an I-829 will have already resided in the US for two years, and must demonstrate that their EB-5 investment created 10 American jobs in order to qualify for unconditional permanent residency.
While there was an unusual drop in receipts of I-829 petitions during FY2021 Q1, they bounced back during Q2, with USCIS receiving 1,053 petitions.
Like I-526 petitions, processing for I-829 petitions dropped slightly during Q2, with USCIS processing 603 petitions.
Investors will be glad to know that approval rates of I-829 petitions have continued to remain exceptionally high. 93% of I-829 petitions adjudicated during Q2, and 97% of all petitions adjudicated during FY2021 have been approved.
Takeaways for EB-5 investors
With the EB-5 regional center program now on hold, USCIS will not be able to process I-526 petitions associated with regional centers. EB-5 investors who chose the direct investment route may benefit, as USCIS will still be able to adjudicate their I-526 petitions. Although only a small minority of I-526 petitions are filed by direct investors, clearing them from the EB-5 backlog would likely improve processing times for the remaining backlog of petitions once the regional center program is reauthorized.
Alternatively, USCIS may choose to focus on processing I-829 petitions for the time being, which would benefit EB-5 investors who have already received their Visa. Currently, it’s simply too early to tell how things may shake out and where USCIS will choose to allocate resources.
Find out if EB-5 is right for you
Although the regional center program may be on hold, it’s likely to be reauthorized after a few months and it’s never too early to start preparing your EB-5 application. Fill out our quick evaluation form below and find out if an EB-5 visa is the right choice for you.