Q4 2017 EB-5 Petition Stats

The USCIS Immigration Forms Data Page has posted EB-5 petition processing data for the 4th quarter of FY2017 (July to September 2017).

The good news is that in FY2017, IPO finally – for the first time since FY2009 – adjudicated more EB-5 petitions than it received during the year. That’s what needs to happen for the backlog to shrink and processing times to fall.

In FY2017, I-526 receipts were down 14% and I-526 adjudications up 31% from the previous year. I-829 receipts were down 24% and adjudications up 42% from the previous year.

Although I-526 receipts fell slightly in FY2017, they were still unsustainably high – enough to claim nearly four years of visa numbers if the annual EB-5 visa cap stays at 10,000. As before, the quarterly receipt trend shows filing surges around regional center program sunset dates.

I-829 receipts fell every quarter in FY2017, which is troubling. The State Department has issued the maximum number of EB-5 visas annually since FY2014, so I would expect a steady stream of petitions to remove conditions. Instead, it seems that an increasing number of people who received conditional permanent residence are failing to complete the EB-5 process. I-829 denial rates remain very low, however.

The most dramatic processing improvement in FY2017 came for I-829 petitions, particularly in the fourth quarter. I-526 processing has improved year-over-year, but not consistently by quarter.

IPO has steadily increased their processing capacity since 2013, and I hope that the trend will continue into 2018. IPO has committed to reducing processing times in 2018, and continues to hire new staff. (Last month USAjobs.gov posted a job announcement recruiting for “many vacancies” as Adjudications Officer at IPO. Fortunately for the poor pending petitions, I decided not to apply.)

USCIS apparently continues to refine its record-keeping system. The Q4 data report not only provides Q4 numbers but some revised figures for previous quarters and years (with variation by several hundred from previously-reported figures). The pending petition count remains a mystery. (One would expect quarter-end pending petitions to equal previous quarter-end pending plus current quarter receipts minus current-quarter adjudications, but that’s not the case.)

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

20 Responses to Q4 2017 EB-5 Petition Stats

  1. Erika says:

    Hello, Susanna,
    I’m an avid reader of your blog, which is the most trustworthy source of information on EB-5 processing times in my opinion. My husband filed a petition on April 28 this year (another sunset date) and we are so looking forward to knowing the outcome. We are from Brazil. May I please dare to ask you for an estimated timeframe regarding our process in view of the recently published petition stats? Thank you so much in advance!

    • I will guess I-526 approval after 20 months in January 2019, calculating conservatively from past data and trends. It could be faster depending on IPO changes and the project/prior approvals. I’ll have a blog post up next week on this specific topic, with a spreadsheet model that you can use for predictions.

  2. happy says:

    Another timely info with great analysis and intriguing questions. Thank you. For people who are interested in an adjudicator job, it’s better hurry to submit resumes now as competitions may skyrocket soon.

    Many people, including me, believe investors have postponed or cancelled I-829 petitions because of project performance. This triggers an interesting question: should IPO continue to issue visas to investors who have received I-526 but know their projects have failed? Wait-time for China-born investors are now so long, that at the time they are interviewed, investors in the same project but from other countries would have already had their I-829 approved. Would IPO do a basic research or get notice from USCIS on I-829 submission/adjudication of the project, before they blindly issue visas to thousands of investors who would just waste previous visa, enter this country, and think of creative ways to stay here?

  3. Dan says:

    It is so strange that the I829 receipts have dropped. I honestly thought it would be around 750 per month as if you get this far, you have to see it through!

  4. Dan says:

    750 per quarter sorry

  5. Rommy says:

    First of all, thank you for providing all the details, I want to know about a scenario where congress or cis comes with a bill/rule that changes the RC investment amount limit in year 2018.If this happens, How this would impact pending I526 applications and other next processes ( I 485, removal of condition) related to I 526 ?

  6. Chris says:

    I think the decrease in processed I-829 for 2017 (overall still above earlier annual levels) is also impacted by the (too) numerous sunset dates and their short term extensions. This has certainly led to a lot of rushed I-526 applications which take longer to get to the visa issuing stage relevant for the starting point of the residency period. We just filed our I-526 for an expedited project (deemed to be of national importance) on Dec. 5 – it took longer to get the paperwork on the source of funds together than expected, also leaving me with a troubling impression. Filings by non-Europeans seem to be more intensely scrutinized by USCIS than others (e.g. China or India) also delaying the process and in some cases leading to an abandonment of an I-526 filing (I did get an offer on an EB-5 investment made in 2016 due to an abandonment, I turned it down however). USCIS could publish some numbers on withdrawn I-526s, I think there would quite a surprise.

  7. C says:

    In 2016, 3400+ families filed I-829. In 2017, this number decreased by around 800. This is very unusual. One theory which has been mentioned by many investors is that investors who are on their conditional PR status realized that their investments are so bad that they will not be well-positioned to secure an I-829 at all, so they simply “gave up” and “self-deport” themselves. This becomes more likely since many projects have failed recently.

    Since Chinese investors have been subjected to backlog since 2015. after years of waiting, many Chinese investors may be able to know that their projects have failed even BEFORE they receive their visa, and as a result, they may either voluntarily quit from the waitlist, or reinvest and resubmit their I-526s (which will lose their priority dates), or USCIS will eventually revoke their I-526s and remove them from the waitlist. Many are estimating the proportion of these investors who will have to “drop out”. Some estimated that at least 15% of approved I-526s will be eventually revoked before a visa is issued (these are the people who typically fail at I-829 stage, but due to visa backlog, they are thrown out much earlier in the process). This may save massive amount of visa numbers (15% * 80000 = 12000), and slightly decrease the waitlist in the long run, although it’s very, very, very unfortunate to these investors.

  8. Joaquin says:

    Thanks for the detail analysis and simple explanations. Base on your experience, an I-526 application thru a direct investment of over $1M, will be processed faster than a regional center application or it would be the same 20 months expectation you mentioned above?
    Thanks in advance

    • In the last stakeholder meeting, IPO deputy chief Julia Harrison claimed that they try to keep the same processing times for direct and regional center I-526, though the case types have different workflows. Whether the investment is in a TEA or not should not have any effect on processing times.

  9. S K says:

    Suzanne, I have been following your blog on a daily basis. It is the most informative source of informal information on the topic. I know sometimes these acts go unnoticed so I just wanted to extend a warm thanks to you for keeping everyone informed.

    I do have a quick question on the processing time updates from USCIS. The last update from USCIS Suggested that as of September 30, 2017 they were processing applications from December 18, 2015. The update that went up yesterday suggested that as of October 31, 2017 they are processing applications from November 21, 2015. That sounds very odd because the date is progressing backwards. Was that a typo in either one of the updates. The conference held in Baruch College suggested that USCIS had shown great progress is overcoming the “4Q2015 surge”… The numbers of their website doesn’t suggest that… Do you have any comments or information on why the waiting time would regress backwards ?

    • Thank you for these kind words!
      My best guess is that RFE responses kept IPO stuck longer than expected in the Q4 2015 surge. Also, the discouraging processing report is as of 10/31, and IPO talked about their progress at Baruch College on 11/10. So maybe the report as of 11/30 will look better.

  10. Amr says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    Many thanks for maintaining this scintillating and wonderfully written blog. It is my go to site for all matters pertaining to the EB-5 visa.

    I wondered if I could be so bold as to ask your estimate on when you think the I-526 would be processed for a petition filed in the U.S in March of 2017 by an Indian national who resides in the U.S? Your counsel would be so appreciated in this manner.

    Best Regards!

    A

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