USCIS has released the third quarter EB-5 Data for fiscal year 2019. T

EB-5 Visa

By Clare Lithgow

The data for the I-526 Petitions by Entrepreneurs as well as the I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status reveal slower processing times in FY 2019. Here’s the data, a few possible reasons for the slowdown, and what, as an investor, you can do to possibly give yourself an edge when applying for the EB-5 Program.

The number of forms received, approved, denied, and pending by quarter:

1st Quarter
Form Number and Description Forms
Received
Approved Denied Pending
I-526 Petitions by Entrepreneurs 1,808 2,175 398 13,508
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove
Conditions on Permanent Resident Status
797 443 31 8,119
2nd Quarter
Form Number and Description FormsReceived Approved Denied Pending
I-526 Petitions by Entrepreneurs 580 795 180 13,105
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to RemoveConditions on Permanent Resident Status 921 270 15 8,821
3rd Quarter
Form Number and Description Forms
Received
Approved Denied Pending
I-526 Petitions by Entrepreneurs 615 333 246 13,070
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove
Conditions on Permanent Resident Status
1,171 574 39 9,295

 

FY 2019 To-Date
Form Number and Description Forms
Received
Approved
I-526 Petitions by Entrepreneurs 3,003 3,303
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove
Conditions on Permanent Resident Status
2,889 1,287

Fourth quarter data for FY 2019 has not been released yet.

What’s Going On At The Immigrant Investor Program Office

In the talking points from the EB-5 Modernization Stakeholder Call on September 9th, the Investor Program Office Chief Sarah Kendall pointed out a few reasons for the slower processing times in FY 2019. These were the main reasons given for the increased delay in processing times:

-The sunset of the Regional Center Program at the end of December and through most of January meant that the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) had to halt work on Regional Center petitions. Even after the program was reauthorized, it was stated that it cost the IPO adjudicative time.

-IPO added extensive training for I-526 petition adjudicators and economists to ensure better adjudication practices and more quality assurance.

-Lastly, staff were temporarily reassigned to other agency priorities.

While Chief Kendall does say that the IPO office strives for “timely adjudication while maintaining program integrity”, she makes no mention of ways in which to improve the process. Most of the stakeholder call focused on the EB-5 Modernization Regulation.

What Investors Can Do

1. Take advantage of cross-chargeability if possible. Cross-chargeability is when an foreign investor uses their spouse’s country of birth to apply for the EB-5 Program. This allows foreign nationals to avoid visa backlogs. Applicants from Mainland China, Vietnam and India, who have a spouse who was born in a country not facing visa retrogression, can apply for an EB-5 visa using that country.

2. Apply for the EB-5 visa as early as possible to lock in their priority date. As the EB-5 Petition processing data shows, there were fewer I-526 Petitions filed in the second and third quarters combined than in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019. Not as many foreign entrepreneurs applied for the EB-5 Program as expected.

3. Applying before the EB-5 modernization regulation takes effect will allow EB-5 applicants to take advantage of the lower minimum investment amount. And if fewer foreign entrepreneurs apply after the regulation takes effect due to the higher minimum investment amount, then applicants who filed early may see faster processing times. This does also depend on the IPO.

4. The IPO wasn’t always this slow. Previous years showed stronger performance. Therefore, IPO could turn things around and begin allocating more staff and resources to improve processing times.

Reach her at clare@eb5daily.com