Who Received EB-5 Visas In 2020?

USCIS has released its report on EB-5 visas issued for FY(fiscal year)2020. While normally these yearly reports are a useful measure of the demand for EB-5 visas internationally, any analysis of this year’s data needs to consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on US Consulates and USCIS to process Visas. 

Source: US State Department Report of the Visa Office

analyzing the data

As you can see from the chart above, less than 4,000 EB-5 visas were issued in FY2020, a significant drop from FY2019’s total of 9,478. Obviously, this number reflects the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on processing of investor’s petitions, and shouldn’t be taken as an indication of a larger trend. With consulate offices across the world open again, and the U.S. reopening from COVID-19 lockdowns, the dramatic drop in visas issued in FY2020 should become an anomaly.

Although any analysis of this data is obviously difficult due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, we can still see some trends emerging. Predictably, the vast majority of EB-5 visas in FY2020 were issued to Chinese nationals, who received 47% of the total EB-5 visas issued. While the EB-5 visa’s popularity in China is still strong, this statistic is more indicative of USCIS processing times than overall demand. Until the massive backlog of approved Chinese investors awaiting visas is cleared, a majority of EB-5 visas issued each year will continue to go to Chinese investors.

This year’s data also confirms India’s own EB-5 boom. In FY2020 Indian nationals received 17% of all EB-5 visas issued, more than any other country aside from China. This was a significant increase from FY2019, which saw India receive 8% of the Total EB-5 issued. Furthermore, the total number of EB-5 visas issued to Indians only dropped about 19% from FY2019 to FY 2020. Compare that to South Korea, who received 695 EB-5 visas in FY2019, (or 7.3% of that year’s total) and saw that number drop 78% for a  total of 152 EB-5 visas issued in FY 2020 (4.2% of the total). 

As we move past the Covid-19 pandemic and the EB-5 program looks ahead to future reforms, it is likely that demand across the world for EB-5 visas will only increase. 

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