FY2018 Q2 EB-5 Form Processing Statistics

USCIS has updated its Immigration and Citizenship Data page with statistics on forms received, processed and pending in the second quarter of FY2018 (January to March 2018). Form I-526 and I-829 are in the Employment Based subsection, and Form I-924 is in the Forms subsection in the “All Forms Report.”

My charts below summarize FY2018 Q2 data compared with previous quarters, and highlight trends. A few notes:

  • IPO processed a few more forms in FY18 Q2 than ever before. It’s nice to see processing trend in a positive direction, and a new record set. Once could wish for more dramatic improvement. The chart of quarterly processing volume over the past three years shows a very gradual upward trend. I-526 and I-924 volume (approvals+denials) improved significantly in Q2, but net improvement remained low when considering reduced I-829 volume.
  • Form receipts at IPO reflect a gradual downward trend, driven by falling I-526 receipts. However I-526 receipts remain unsustainably high. The 10,000 annual quota of EB-5 visas means that the program can accommodate about 830 I-526 per quarter on average (assuming about 3 visas per investor). FY18 Q2’s unusually low 1,607 I-526 receipts is still almost twice the sustainable average: one quarter’s filings sufficient to claim half a year of visas.
  • Form I-924 receipts and processing were both significantly elevated in FY18 Q2. No wonder I-924 processing times look better than expected. I-924 denial rates remain high.
  • I-829 receipts grew in FY18 Q2, even as processing volume fell again, with fewer I-829 processed in Q2 than in any of the previous three quarters.
  • If we could predict processing times by dividing number of pending forms in Q2 by number forms processed in Q2, then I-526 would take 17 months, I-829 36 months, and I-924 16 months. This prediction differs from the month ranges currently in the USCIS Processing Times Report: 20-26 months for I-526, 30.5-39.5 months for I-829, 19.5-25.5 months for I-924. I tried several equations with the pending and volume numbers, and (unlike last quarter) didn’t find one that neatly replicates the USCIS processing time calculation.
  • In case I-829 petitioners didn’t have enough to worry about already, the I-829 data doesn’t look right. The FY18 Q2 report reviews Q1 data, as follows: 694 receipts, 6,251 pending. But the Q1 report published in May had quite different numbers for Q1: 1,046 receipts, 6,673 pending. To where did those 352 receipts and 422 pending petitions from Q1 disappear? Or maybe they didn’t disappear, but joined other petitions of unknown origin, since the number of petitions reported pending at the end of Q2 (7,447), is higher by almost a thousand than what one would expect from taking Q1 pending petitions plus Q2 receipts minus Q2 approvals and denials. Hope USCIS can soon modernize beyond paper and counting sticks for keeping EB-5 records. Or am I missing something?

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.

37 Responses to FY2018 Q2 EB-5 Form Processing Statistics

  1. LK says:

    Mine is almost at 23 months already for I-526. What would be the highest outlier here? Would it be like me at 23 months vs 17 months or 20 months you quoted?

  2. SJ says:

    Thanks for doing such a great job job. It’s so hard to get real answers to questions investors have from the industry which always tries to downplay problems – esp the queue time.

    You talked about India getting cut off soon in an earlier post. I think I got the mechanics of that – because of an overload of 526 you need to look at the future when the 526 is processed than today. (At least that’s what I got from it.) OMB also suggests a cutoff coming soon.

    I applied in end of October 17. I’m struggling to understand if I should be concerned about being held back in potential future backlog based on the numbers you’ve seen. Sorry I tried but couldn’t really understand the data you’ve seen so far – and no agent seems to give a clear answer.

    • The answer to your question about visa wait depends on knowing how many people from India filed I-526 in the past year and half, and how many of those I-526 will turn into visa applications, and when. Charlie Oppenheim at Department of State has more relevant data than we do in the industry, and he made these estimates in April 2018: India will likely have a cut-off date starting in early 2019, and an Indian investor filing in April 2018 will likely wait 5 years for a visa. This is the clearest and best available answer. We don’t have enough data yet to replicate it, but Charlie does have the numbers. With your I-526 having been filed in October 2017, your petition will probably be approved after the cut-off date is in place, and your wait will likely be less than 5 years, since you’re before all the Indian petitions from November 2017 to April 2018 that Charlie factored into his estimate.

      • Manas M. says:

        Just got my 526 approved (filling your GDocs form right now). At the risk of asking you to play Nostradamus, do you think with any luck I’ll be able to avoid the backlog? Just me on the application. Lawyers seem to think it’s a tough one to judge and could be a hair’s breadth.

        • I wonder if you’re going through the status adjustment (I-485) or consular processing? I have heard of some delays with NVC between I-526 approval and getting to the point of being documentarily qualified. I see that the Visa Bulletin doesn’t anticipate adding new cut-off dates through January 2019. But I’m not very familiar with this area, so your lawyers are the best available Nostradamus!

  3. Kishore says:

    I think Charlie indicated India reaches to the 7% per country cap in FY2020 (October 2019)

    • At IIUSA in April, Charlie said “June, probably earlier” for imposing a final action date for India. (Start listening at minute 11:30 here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/80e15gwnm3dr89k/OppenheimIIUSA2018-0423.MOV?dl=0). The recording doesn’t include the Q&A period, but I’m told that Charlie clarified then that he meant June 2019, not June 2018.

      • kishore says:

        ok thanks for confirming

      • Satyajit Gavand says:

        Forgive me for my ignorance, but he just mentioned that the Final action date for India is potentially going to be before June 2019. There was no mention about any retrogression or that Indian investors who had applied in May2018 were going to have to wait for 5 years for a conditional green card ? Did I miss something

        • The timing estimate came from the Q&A time after the presentation, which wasn’t included in the recording sent to me. But multiple sources report that Charlie Oppenheim was asked to give a timing estimate for people filing today, and responded with the following estimates: China, 15 years; Vietnam, 6 years; India, 5 years; Brazil and S. Korea, 2 years. His estimates would be based on knowing number of recent I-526 filings from these countries, and estimating how many visa applications would result from those filings.

          People filing today can’t judge their visa wait by today’s visa bulletin, but need to predict how the visa bulletin will look one to two years in the future when they reach the visa application stage. That’s why people filing today may need to worry about a waiting line even though the visa bulletin hasn’t announced a cut-off date yet. For more discussion, see my post https://blog.lucidtext.com/2018/06/18/i-526-and-eb-5-visa-wait-times-country-specific-effects-of-potential-changes/

  4. K says:

    Is it 5 years to get conditional GC ?

  5. John says:

    According to the IIUSA report, “the Q2 2018 i829 approvals reached historical high level of 1,500…”

    Very confusing news from IIUSA, which normally publishes great analysis.

  6. John says:

    The IIUSA blog says 829 approvals for Q2 2018 were historically high at 1,500. I normally trust IIUSA analysis, but this time it seems there is something wrong?


  7. Kishore says:

    Lawsuit filed against USCIS for backlog by chinese eb5 applicants https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180725005655/en

    • Dan says:

      I’m not sure that has any legs. No laws have been broken.

      • AB says:

        Probably does not have legs, but it is for a court to decide if laws are being broken (which is what the plaintiffs are alleging). The complaint is that USCIS is misinterpreting the law on how the investors are being counted (i.e., counting all dependents and not just the primary investor, as they claim the law intends).

  8. Investor says:

    Not sure why they did this. The law is the law regarding 7% per country. It has been like that for a long time. This will never go anywhere except be great for the lawyers involved!

  9. MT says:

    how much time it takes once your get Approval Notice I797

  10. jafar says:

    hi, I file my I526 application in August 2017 from Pakistan. Any idea about the processing time?

  11. Thenga Mandai says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    I came across this post recently – https://businesswireindia.com/news/fulldetails/canams-spiral-project-receives-i-526-approval-by-uscis/59424.

    What stood out to me was the I-526 approval was given “approximately 8 months after submission”. This is way earlier than the 22 month average currently on the USCIS website.

    Does this mean processing times varies by project? Or does nationality have anything to do with how soon a petition is reviewed?

    Thanks for doing a great job in maintaining this blog so well. It’s been very helpful!

    • Karan says:

      There are several case where applications have been approved within 12 months.
      One of the factors is that if the project has I-924 approval can expedite approval by 2-3 months.
      I heard too about approval in 8 months but could be one odd case or may be marketing strategy as a lot of RC makes some unofficial statements to lure investors.
      It’s based on my personal experience where I was told will get 4-5% returns which is absolute BS.

      • Thenga Mandai, My experience indicates that (1) there is significant variation in actual I-526 processing times, with 8 months being not uncommon; (2) it is difficult/impossible to infer a reliable pattern in the deviation. Certainly, one cannot predict that all CanAm investors will receive approval in 8 months, just because one does. I put the factors that I know about in this post: https://blog.lucidtext.com/2018/05/18/how-long-does-i-526-take-iii/

        • Thenga Mandai says:

          Thank you, Suzzane.

          It does seem like EB-5 RCs who’ve had a good track record with the USCIS tend to receive “faster-than-normal” approvals but fwiw, people who I know who’ve invested with RCs were told by their attorneys to take a conservative approach and expect a response according to the suggested times on the USCIS website.

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