How long does I-526 take? (Part II)

Update: I have deleted this now-outdated post and replaced it with How long does I-526 take? (Part III)

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

39 Responses to How long does I-526 take? (Part II)

  1. Aasif Chhipa says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    I appreciate the explanation of processing by chart.
    But this does not fit in my case as my project is already approved when I applied my petition.
    Even after this, I was issued an RFE which was project related RFE. This RFE is issued after 18 months I applied.
    I don’t understand if a project is approved then how come I have project related RFE.
    I am also aware of that half of the investors got the approvals straight away that indicates the project is exemplar approved.

    Can you please explain this?
    One more thing that after issuance of RFE after 18 months I immediately submit the response in 20 days. Its been 15 days so far since I submitted the response and stil there has not been any changes in my status in USCIS website.
    When RFE was issued on January 10 2018 my status changed from “Case received” to “RFE Issued.”
    Once I submitted the response on January 30th 2018 the status in USCIS website should have been changed from :RFE Issued” to “Response Submitted”
    But it has not changed so far even after 15 days.
    Can you please give some update son that.

    I would appreciate your precious time and reply,
    Reagrds
    Aasif

    • I’m sorry to hear this story, and not sure what to say except that it seems to reflect a system not working the way it is supposed to work. Here is the official deference policy: https://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume6-PartG-Chapter6.html. Your lawyer may advise whether you can challenge how USCIS treated your case, considering the deference policy. However, in my reading of AAO decisions on I-526 cases, I fairly regularly see USCIS trying to justify having departed from prior approvals. Regarding the USCIS case status system, I’ve heard from many people that it’s often not updated promptly.

    • Art says:

      Do not worry, Aasif!
      My case is in National Visa Center already, however, the case status at USCIS web site shows only the original date for case submission. Apparently the system is not reflecting the real time case status.

      • M Asif Chhipa says:

        Hi there.
        Thanks for sharing a valuable update.
        Are you an Indian investor? Or are you from some other country?
        I was just curious if we can have word and can exchange contact details
        Regards
        Aasif

  2. J says:

    My petition in November 2015 has been outstanding for 27 months – I looked at about 100 petitions filed on the same day, roughly 20pct of them have still yet to be processed (no approve/deny/RFE)

    • Thank you for this update. I see that the USCIS processing time information page has just reported that they are back to working on October 2015 petitions. One really wonders what is happening behind the scenes. I hope you hear something soon!

  3. YY says:

    Suzanne,

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for a while and I think you grasp all the regulation and EB5 issue the best on the internet.

    My question is: is there anywhere to find the approval status of i924 and i924a for each regional centers? Also, if an i526 application requires project related review, will USCIS send the RFE to the applicant or will USCIS verify with regional center on its own?

    Thank you very much!

  4. Bo says:

    I am not sure if you noticed the new processing times today. We are back at Ocotber 18… (almost 2 months backward move)…

  5. Suzanne, as a former visa officer well-versed in the chaos of processing backlogs, I have repeatedly proposed a simple reworking of the IPO I-526 process. Before separating RC and individual cases, the IPO should separate “visa available” I-526s from “visa backlogged” I-526s. Currently, the former would only include of nationals of China but we are told Vietnam will soon be on that list. If IPO initiated intake this way, the backlogged nationalities would be receipted in immediately, with priority date established, then set aside for adjudication AFTER the “visa available” cases are processed. What is the point of adjudicating backlogged cases – which make up close to 90% of filings — when the establishment of the priority date is defined via the Notice of Receipt, not by the date an RFE is generated or an approval issued? What good is it to have thousands of I-526 approvals destined to wait for years and bottleneck the entire adjudication process?

    The USCIS should intake and issue receipts/priority dates as it does, first in/first out. After that, IPO should adjudicate those cases which can be approved NOW for conditional residency and allow those persons to immigrate in a reasonable period of time. Doing this would have absolutely no adverse affect on applicants from backlogged nationalities (since their priority dates would be accurately registered) but it would allow USCIS to move through those who CAN immigrate today, catch up with current cases, then organize its processing workflow in a manner which permits them to tackle the oversubscribed nationalities systematically, having those petitions approved and ready years before the visa numbers become available to them.

    • You could send this comment to IPO, as they did ask for such feedback at the last stakeholder meeting. I wonder about the potential effect on EB-5 projects, however, and the possible invitation to fraud, if project people could be confident that paperwork for Chinese investors wouldn’t get looked at for years.

    • happy says:

      Thank you for sharing. I think it is a brilliant idea to potentially benefit everyone. There is one catch though. If USCIS focuses on adjudicating “visa-available” I-526s, then the processing time would probably drop from the current 27 months to 12 months for “visa-available” I-526s. This means roughly an additional one-year visa-available petitioners would enter NVC sooner and receive visa ahead of the visa-backlogged I-526 petitioners. One-year’s visa available non-Chinese petitioners are probably 5,000 persons, consuming 6 months’ visa supply. As such, Chinese petitioners would be delayed for an additional 6 months to receive their visa. Some of their kids may age out just because of this 6 months.

      To most visa-backlogged petitioners who are facing the risk of age-out children, your proposal, if adopted, would be a great news, if details can be worked out with the project sponsors on escrow release etc.

  6. Dan says:

    Hi all, what I can’t seem to understand is that at the last Stakeholder meeting we were told that we would all be surprised at how much it advances as they were processing much larger quantities. Especially on I-829’s. That has not happened at all. It will be interesting to hear what they say about the reasons at the next meeting.

  7. SK says:

    Suzanne, The latest statistics from USCIS shows that the current EB-5 date shifted 2 months backwards (Dec 18, 2015 to Oct 18, 2015) between the updates on Nov 30,2017 and Dec 31,2017. Any words of comfort on what might be happening ?

    • I guess that this reflects a new decision about how to report IPO’s progress, not actually a new reality. As I note in my post, we know that in fact many petitions filed since October 2015 have been adjudicated already. I’ll start to worry when IPO starts reporting a smaller volume of petitions processed, but that hasn’t been the trend. The date regression might mean that IPO is temporarily prioritizing the getting oldest-pending cases out of the system.

  8. Dan says:

    That would be very useful Suzanne to try and get some data for I-829. There is such little info on I-829’s on the Internet. I filed mine in June 2017 so I guess I have a long wait ahead!

  9. D says:

    Suzanne,

    In your spreadsheet that compiles data from individuals, some people have reported processing times as short as 3 months. Under what circumstances can anyone get their I-526 approved in 3 months?

    Thanks for your effort.

    • Chris says:

      D,

      Our I-526 petition took 70 days from filing to approval, the project had both an exemplar approval and was approved for expedited processing in April 2017. I don’t know why it went so fast, but I guess all factors were in favor of a quick process (not the very first investor, straight forward source of fund docs, ideal EB-5 project type in a TEA, project needed completion by Sept 2018, great political support, etc. etc..). Even the Regional Center was advising investors that an expediated processing should take at least 6 months.

  10. LA says:

    How did you get the expedited processing on hour case ? I was under the impression that expedited processing depends on the individual circumstances and not the project. Anyway congratulations on getting the approval in 70 days. I submitted mine 14 months ago and still no word on the status. Cheers.

  11. Minh Vo says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    Once Vietnamese Visa Application reaches to the country limit, Vietnamese and Chinese Visa Applicants will share the unused visa allocation from the remain countries.
    Could you please let me know how NVC share this? (I mean how many percentage for each countries)

    Thanks.

  12. D says:

    If a project receives an Exemplar approval either before the first I-526 is filed or halfway through the waiting period for the I-526 petitions, is there any clarity on how that would affect the priority of processing, or lead to any reduction in the waiting time? Will the USCIS pluck the petitions of that project out of the queue and push them through? This seems to be kind of shrouded in mystery, so any clarification would be greatly helpful.

    Thanks

  13. Bigshort says:

    I have recently filed my i-526 petition. All my income has been from usa (h1b status ) for 10 years and income was earned in passive investment in stocks. Would i get a quicker approval ?

  14. Vijaya says:

    I have read in Washington updates “April to July 2018: Possible moratorium on new I-526 filing, if Congress passes EB-5 legislation in March that includes a transition period.”. Does it mean that Filing for EB-5 will temporarily stop for some period? What would be the approximate period to allow 500K fees for EB-5 Visa program? Until April 2018? Kindly suggest.

    • The draft legislation calls for a stop to new I-526 filing starting at the date of enactment, and continuing for the next 120 days. After that, filings based on the new rules may commence. So the approximate period to invest at the $500,000 level is this week, assuming that the bill may pass and be enacted next week as part of the omnibus due by March 23.

  15. Oscar says:

    Does anybody know if I investing the money before the I-526 petition can make the process faster? I mean, instead of putting it in escrow.

  16. Oscar says:

    Does anybody know where/how to find a project that fulfills the expedite requirements?

    • A says:

      Oscar please reach out to me at 3053108122

    • And keep in mind that a project that fulfills the expedite requirements may or may not be a safe or suitable investment. Due diligence remains important. (I mention this thinking of one project that received expedited approvals in the past due to political pressure, but whose questionable terms and vulnerable capital stack worry us in the industry. So be cautious and do your research! And good luck.)

      • Tushar says:

        how do u know if a project has full filled Expedite requirement? is it the exemplary or some other document?

  17. Kishore says:

    Is there clarity on how i-526 is processed once the project is approved and RC is approved ? Are all the i-526 filed for the project assessed together if they have been filed over time ?. There isnt any clarity if there is a wait time for i-526 processing when project and RC are approved. How long is the application on hold even before its even looked into ?

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