Q2 2017 EB-5 Petition Processing Data, Audits, Leahy letter

Q2 2017 EB-5 Petition Processing Data

The USCIS Immigration and Citizenship Data page has been updated with data from FY2017 Q2 (January to March) for petitions including I-526 and I-829.


A few points to note:

  • The fall in I-526 receipts was to be expected, since the previous quarters represented unnatural filing surges around sunset dates. Even 1,731 receipts in one quarter is not sustainable, however. So long as annual EB-5 visas are limited to about 10,000 for investors plus family members, only about 3,330 investors per year can get visas. The US actually benefited from 13,148 EB-5 investments over the past four quarters – but that’s almost four years of visa numbers for investors plus family.  Such a situation is not sustainable. If Congress wants to welcome more than 3,330 investments per year in the future, it needs to address visa availability.
  • USCIS processed 567 fewer I-526s this quarter than last quarter – not good news.
  • USCIS processed about 200 more I-829 petitions this quarter than last quarter – improvement, but not enough. If IPO continues processing about 300 I-829s per quarter, it will take over six years just to work through the existing backlog of I-829s. The California Service Center managed to process over 800 petitions in the final quarter that it handled I-829, and even IPO did better in early 2016 than it’s doing now. IPO announced their new I-829 adjudications unit in early March, so we may have to wait for Q3 stats to see real improvement.
  • The number of I-829 receipts has dropped the last two quarters. I wonder if this reflects petitioners giving up before reaching I-829, or being held up in the waiting line for conditional permanent residence.
  • The backlog of pending petitions is a tiny bit less dire than last quarter.

While inputting receipt numbers from this processing data report, I thought to try linking them with the dates in the IPO processing time reports. For example, IPO seems to have been working forever on I-526 cases filed in September 2015, and we might explain this this by looking at the surge in I-526 receipts around September 2015. So I added a tab to my processing times log that tries to make the link. My calculations don’t look right, which may be additional evidence that IPO processing time reports do not simply reflect FIFO case processing.

Regional Center Audits

Notes from a May 12, 2017 meeting between AILA and the USCIS Field Operations Directorate has some Q&A on EB-5 questions (page 10-15), including:

  • EB-5 Regional Center Compliance Audit Program: USCIS answered practical questions about the process and content of an audit.
  • Investors in terminated RCs: USCIS said that “Until a regional center that has been issued a Notice of Termination exhausts its administrative remedies before USCIS, the agency will generally delay final adjudication  or revocation of I-526 petitions associated with that regional center if the sole factor determining petitioner eligibility is the termination of the regional center’s designation.” (This is a welcome statement considering past evidence to the contrary.)
  • Regional Center amendments: In another installment of confusing guidance, USCIS indicated that amendments are required for both geographic area expansion and changes to ownership/org structure/administration, but not “required” in the same sense. The geographic area amendment must be “filed and approved” before I-526s are filed, while “Regional center projects are not on hold while the amendment is pending” in the case of an ownership change amendment

Washington Developments

The Kushner Companies EB-5 roadshow in China continues to reverberate, this time in a letter from Senator Leahy, Representative Conyers, and Representative Lofgren on behalf of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees to the Kushner Companies. The letter focuses on potential conflict-of-interest issues, and airs concerns about EB-5 generally. I’m most interested in this letter for the footnotes, and disturbed by the picture it paints of one-sided and minority-focused EB-5 lobbying. This meeting, for example, gives an unfortunate impression.

About Suzanne (www.lucidtext.com)
Suzanne Lazicki is a business plan writer, EB-5 expert, and founder of Lucid Professional Writing.

14 Responses to Q2 2017 EB-5 Petition Processing Data, Audits, Leahy letter

  1. Liron says:

    Suzanne,

    First of all thank you so much for providing a priceless source of information to all of us.

    The I-829 processing times sure seems negative. Was hoping that with the new teams they added it would be materially higher.

    Quick question, in the USCIS page (https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/ptAllFormsAverage.do) the YTD I-829 processing time was until recently over 700 days and now they report it to be 180 days.
    What am I missing? Is it just a typo?

    Thanks again!
    Liron

  2. EB-5 Global Ventures says:

    Very informative. I found it very useful specifically for EB-5 Petition.

  3. Hello Suzanne,
    Thank you very much for your priceless work under every posts which was followed by me for over a year now.

    As under the note you stated that, if processing of I-829 petition continues with current pace then clearing backlog of I-829 petition took 6 years, then what will be the status of conditional greencard for immigrant investor who is already in the US and conditional greencard validity is for only 2 years from approval of I-526 petition. Can you throw some valuable inputs that pls…

  4. Eb5 invest says:

    Amazingly informative. Your blog has all the information and updates one need to understand about EB5. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  5. Eb5 invest says:

    Hi Suzanne How can we know which center is handling individual case?

    • I don’t quite understand this question. But in general, any information about an individual case is not public. If you mean which USCIS office adjudicates a particular case, you can check which USCIS offices handles the kind of form filed for that case. All EB-5 forms are adjudicated by the Investor Program Office (IPO) in Washington DC.

  6. Dilip says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    This is one of the best websites I have come across on the EB-5 program.

    I would like to ask you a couple of basic questions:

    1. You derive the I-526 processing time from the USCIS website processing date, but is that processing time an average for Chinese and non-Chinese applicants? If so, will the non-Chinese applications be processed faster than the average? Does the USCIS publish such breakdown and is it possible to calculate the processing time separately for Chinese and non-Chinese investors?

    2. Is there a similarly long waiting list for Chinese investors at the I-829 stage? If so, is it possible to break down the I-829 waiting time for Chinese and non-Chinese applicants?

    Thank you for all your efforts.

    Cheers

    • Thank you for your kind words about my blog. The distinction between Chinese and non-Chinese applicants is significant for the application for conditional permanent residence (visa), but not for investor petitions since the per-country numerical limit applies only to visas, not to I-526 or I-829 petitions. Investors from some countries may get longer petition processing times due to heightened scrutiny of source of funds evidence (for example, I assume processing for Iranian investors must be unusually lengthy), but generally (in principle) I-526 and I-829 are processed in a first in first out system regardless of origin.

      • Dilip says:

        Thank you for your prompt response, Suzanne.

        From your reply, I understand that the I-526 petition will be processed on a “first in, first out” basis, but then the conditional visas will be issued only when the quota for the country becomes available. Hope this is correct.

        Thanks, again!

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