I-924A webinar, Processing Times, I-526 by country, visa numbers, EB-5 legislation (HR 3471)

I-924A Webinar
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to participate in a webinar on Thursday, August 24, from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern to discuss Form I-924A, Annual Certification of Regional Center. This webinar will discuss certain changes to the Dec. 23, 2016 edition of Form I-924A and the accompanying instructions. Here is the invitation with instructions for registration. This webinar is also mentioned in Julia Harrison’s Talking Points (July 2017), a new document on the USCIS website that covers a bit of content from the EB-5 engagement in San Jose.

EB-5 Processing Times
Good news! The latest IPO Processing Times report indicates that IPO had a productive June and possibly made a dent in processing times. Most reports since 2014 have shown IPO processing less than a month’s worth of filings each month, which meant it got further and further behind. But in June 2017, the “processing petitions as of” date advanced 1.1 months for I-526, 1.4 months for I-829, and 2.1 months for I-924. If IPO can keep working through more than 30 days of filings every month, we’ll see processing times come down. I understand that periodic filing surges make this difficult, however.

EB-5 Investors by Country: 2016
The latest Regional Center Business Journal has an article with interesting data on I-526 petition filings by country of investor origin, obtained via FOIA request from USCIS. See A New Lens: What the Latest Data Tells Us about Raising EB-5 Capital in an Increasingly Challenging Marketplace (June 2017) by Lee Li.  The State Department publishes figures for visa issuance by country, but they aren’t a good indicator for current demand since most investors receive a visa years after investing. The figures on I-526 filings in 2016, however, likely reflect investment decisions in 2016.

A few takeaways from the 2016 data on I-526 petitions:

  • Vietnam and India register the largest demand spike, with 40+% increase in I-526 petition filings between 2015 and 2016
  • Iran, Venezuela, and Mexico are three countries that made the top 10 countries by number of petition filings in 2016, though they weren’t in the top 10 for visas issued in 2016.
  • Average I-526 approval rates vary by country. The lowest average approval rate in 2016 was for Iranian investors, at only 37%, while 96% of petitions from Hong Kong investors were approved. I will guess that approval rates correlate to the relative difficulty of verifying source of funds for specific countries, and on the relative experience/inexperience of people preparing petition paperwork for investors in each country. Other countries with low I-526 approval rates in 2016 were Mexico (57% approval rate), India (66%), and Russia (67%).
  • China-born investors filed more or less 10,948 I-526 petitions in 2016, while the rest of the world filed about 2,325. China-born investors should pay attention to that “rest of the world” number, since those petitioners and their family get to go ahead of China-born investors in the visa queue.

Visa Numbers

Speaking of the visa backlog, here’s another good article addressing the situation and possible solutions: It’s All About the Numbers (August 8, 2017) by H. Ronald Klasko.

The status quo is unsustainable and requires serious response. So long as we have a few mega-projects flooding the program and the backlog with investors, we must unite in support of visa number solutions or EB-5 will become unusable for everyone. And the U.S. would benefit from providing visas to accommodate the volume of people willing to make major investments in our economy.

New Legislation
Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Dwight Evans (D-PA) have introduced an EB-5 bill: H.R.3471 – American Job Creation and Investment Into Public Works Reform Act of 2017. The bill is nearly identical to H.R. 5992 introduced last year by Goodlatte and Conyers, with the most significant difference being the suggestion that infrastructure projects administered by a governmental entity should get a visa set-aside. This bill is significant because it’s one of only two EB-5 bills officially on the table this Congress, but I don’t hear anyone talking about it. The sponsor and co-sponsor haven’t announced it on their websites. Industry as a whole will not like the fact that it doesn’t offer a solution to the visa backlog. The big-league lobbyists won’t like it because it retains the features of H.R. 5992 that they worked so hard to negotiate out of subsequent discussion drafts: retroactive application to petitions filed since June 1, 2015, hefty and clunky account transparency requirement, gift and loan restrictions, significant incentive to invest in a distressed TEA, and significant spread in the annual fee applied to large versus small regional centers. The additional visa set-aside proposed by H.R. 3471 is sweetened by the fact that the bill eliminates the H.R. 5992 suggestion to make the set-asides permanent. I’ve added the bill to my comparison chart, and will keep watching for discussion. The Hill has another article on controversial immigration issues linked to the upcoming September spending fight, but EB-5 doesn’t get a mention. Perhaps H.R.3471 is a subtle solution to the border-wall funding argument that dominates current immigration debate?


About Suzanne (www.lucidtext.com)
Suzanne Lazicki is a business plan writer, EB-5 expert, and founder of Lucid Professional Writing. Contact me at suzanne@lucidtext.com (626) 660-4030.

13 Responses to I-924A webinar, Processing Times, I-526 by country, visa numbers, EB-5 legislation (HR 3471)

  1. Reddy says:

    Thanks for such an informative blog!

    Based on the information in your blog, It looks like USCIS is processing an average of 3100 petitions per quarter for the last 3 quarters. And with Jan – June 2017 containing only 2361 petitions, I am expecting/hoping that we reach June 2017 in the next 3 months.

    As an Indian investor, I am concerned about the low approval rates for Indian investors. Do you think the exceptionally high (30 %) rate of direct investments(non RC) by Indian investors has something to do with it as well ?

  2. happy says:

    Thank you for sharing. The I-526 application by country is an incredibly important news to China-born investment. With 2325 I-526 petitions from other countries, annual visa available to Chinese investors may just be over 4000. With almost 70K Chinese petitioners in the pipeline, it may take over 15 years for Chinese investors to receive their visa. If there is any set-aside, it’s not impossible that these investors may never see their greencards in their life! To these poor Chinese investors who are already on boat, price increase is probably not a bad news. It would discourage petitioners from other countries, and hence leaving more visa available visa to them in the next 10-15 years.

    • On the bright side for some investors, denial rates are higher (especially for the non-China investors), than I assumed in my model of the waiting time.

      • Aasif says:

        Hi Suzanne,
        Thanks foe sharing such a useful information. it is very helpful for the investors like us. But if possible can you help me with something?
        I have applied my petition in June 2016 so technically its been 14 months plus and now USCIS is processing the file thats applied on or before 22nd November 2015. That shows I am still in well within the time line.

        But my worry is that my project has more than 500 investors and some of them has applied before April, May June 2015 that means they should have got the answer from the USCIS whether their file is approved or denied. But unfortunately none of the investors have received any answers yet. For these investors its been 24 months since they applied but not processed or answered yet?

        Can you please tell me what might be the reason behind that?
        I had asked my regional center about it ..they replied that its because of the slow process but if its the case then how come the investors applied before the time line have not received any answers.
        I would appreciate your reply,

        Aasif Chhipa

        • IPO has said that it will sometimes group petitions for one project, and process them all together rather than in date order, so that’s one possibility. Investors in that project who filed before October 2015 now have a right to make case inquiries, since they are behind the average time. Try to get in contact with those investors, and find out what they hear back from IPO. You might also make an account on my discussion forum for EB-5 investors and see what others are saying http://eb5.freeforums.net/

      • happy says:

        I bet denial rate for non-China investors would come down once the local market achieves a critical mass and the agents there become more experienced. It will take few months before everybody in China figures out the actual wait time, then the market there would be dead (even now it’s extremely slow). Vietnam and Indian markets may help the industry survive a couple of more years before these countries are haunted by the same problem. Note, retrogression is now much easier to happen for the other countries. Petitioners from Vietnam and Indian in 2016 may have already been there… So, the entire EB-5 industry would dramatically DIE in 2-3 years.

        If any solutions to fix it becomes politically impossible, price increase would give some release. It’s really a natural way. When Disney’s ride becomes too popular, the regular line becomes too long that no new person would wait in the regular line. After some time, the fast pass lines become too long to have a new customer either. Then it’s the time to raise the price of the ride!!! That’s how Disney and any business works. Otherwise,in the next few years, the entire industry would do nothing but complaint calls.I don’t understand why there is so much resistance on price increase. RC makes more money (higher interest income) per investor, so it really won’t hurt them as much as they thought.

  3. Aasif says:

    HI Suzanne,
    Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it, As you said it might be the case of the mass processing that can be the case….
    but it is bit difficult to find out the information about the other investors as this is classified information and wont be shared by the regional center or project management.

    All i can hope right now is that this is the case of mass processing and I shall get my answer within 3 months from now.

    I am bit concerned. In my last interaction with the regional center they told me that USCIS has asked 3 specific things from them.

    1) Documents showing the new commercial enterprise (Principal entities) involved in the project
    2) Documents showing that the fund of Eb-5 raised is released to the project
    3) List of all investors who have invested money in to this project.

    This was exactly a month ago.

    Till then no further updates.

    So based on this whats your view?

    If possible let me know,

    I would appreciate your time and reply,

    Aasif Chhipa

    • I’m so far outside the situation that I can’t give good advice. I hope you have an immigration lawyer independent of the regional center who can help advocate for your interests and the information you should receive. I imagine that you, as an investor, would have good grounds to ask the RC to share a redacted copy of the RFE other investors have been receiving, and at least the responses to point #1 and #2. That point #3 makes me wonder whether USCIS wants to determine whether the offering is fully subscribed before it will approve any petitions. I can understand the RC not sharing info about other investors in the project, but if I were an investor I’d try to find others anyway (by the Internet, if no other means) because they are the people on earth who most share my interests in the EB-5 process. I note that it’s common not to hear back from USCIS for several months after filing response to a Request for Evidence.

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