FY17 per-country I-526 data, SEC action (registration)

Per-Country I-526 Data
IIUSA has received another year of per-country data for I-526 filings through the Freedom of Information Act process, and prepared a report for IIUSA members. Being ambivalent about freedom of information, IIUSA has decided to share this much with the public.
The full FOIA data set for I-526 filings, approvals, and denials FY2016-FY2017 is being sold for $1,500 (discounted to $300 for IIUSA members).

People who seek EB-5 investors will be interested to note shifts in the top six countries for EB-5 demand. Data on I-526 filings gives a better demand indicator than visas issued, since visas are usually issued 2+ years after the investment.

Past Chinese investors will note with concern the rising number of I-526 filings from other countries that aren’t oversubscribed. But Chinese can also take heart that increased demand in FY16/17 was concentrated in two countries that have (Vietnam) or will (India) exceed their cap and receive a demand-dampening cut-off date since FY2017. Only applicants from undersubscribed countries with no cut-off date can advance ahead of Chinese in the visa waiting line.

Indians will appreciate the clue to future EB-5 visa demand and wait time. Table 1 shows that Indians filed 354+587=941 I-526 from FY16 to FY17. Let’s say 941 I-526 filed * 85% I-526 approval rate * 2.9 visas per I-526 approval = 2,320 visas demanded. (I’m using historical worldwide averages as variables for this estimate, though I guess Indian approval rates may be lower and family size higher than the China-dominated average.**) About 2,320 EB-5 visas demanded by Indians * 1 year/696 EB-5 visas available to India = about 3.3 years to issue the EB-5 visas demanded by India in FY16 and FY17. 3.3 years/2 years = 1.6 more demand than supply = backlog coming. Processing time information indicates that USCIS is only just now approving I-526 from 2016, so many of those I-526 filers haven’t reached the visas application stage yet. When they do, they’ll exceed the per-country cap and lead to a visa bulletin cut-off date for India. When that will happen depends on USCIS’s speed in adjudicating I-526. The length of the visa wait time will vary for people with different priority dates. If only we had FY2018 data as well! Charlie Oppenheim at Department of State probably has these numbers, and I look forward to hearing what he has to say at the AILA/IIUSA EB-5 Industry Forum in a few weeks. I also look forward to USCIS finally publishing FY2018 Q3 data for worldwide EB-5 petitions filings (which they’re very late in doing). Because good business decisions depend on information, I continue to update and share my spreadsheet of available data related to EB-5 visa availability.

**UPDATE: I’ve since realized that DOS publishes a report of Monthly Immigrant Visa Issuances that contradicts my assumption about family size. I logged the monthly reports of EB-5 visas issued to Indians and Vietnamese so far in FY2018 (See Tab 2 Column AS of my backlog spreadsheet), with this result:

  • India: 347 EB-5 visas issued Oct 2017-August 2018, of which 130 were to principal applicants (average 2.67 visas per principal)
  • Vietnam: 658 EB-5 visas issued Oct 2017-August 2018, of which 171 were to principal applicants (average 3.85 visas per principal)

SEC Action on Unregistered Sales of Securities
The SEC has set a gentle example to the EB-5 community in a recent enforcement action. The SEC targeted EB-5 giant CMB Export for violations of registration requirements and improper transaction-based compensation until 2015, and settled for $11.6 million in penalties (not much, considering the amount of investor funds involved) and compliments to CMB’s compliance efforts since 2015. In its press release, the SEC emphasizes the intended moral of the story: “All securities, including EB-5 securities, must comply with registration provisions, which are essential to protecting investors. In the EB-5 industry, strong compliance policies can help ensure that companies meet their registration obligations under the federal securities laws.” Other regional centers will be interested to read the SEC Order and consider their own past and future policies. Note that previous actions have made an issue of transaction-based compensation to unregistered broker-dealers, but this is the first SEC action to target offering partnership interests without first registering the offering, or having a valid exemption from registration.

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

37 Responses to FY17 per-country I-526 data, SEC action (registration)

  1. Fantastic article, as always. Will we be seeing you in Chicago?

  2. LK says:

    I actually invested using CMB. Would that latest penalty have to do anything with holding the petitions for current CMB projects in any way Suzanne? I saw it somewhere on the internet (might not be true but I don’t fully know the laws) that if a regional center is in pending stage for any reason with the charges, the petitions would be paused until the final decision comes out. My Priority Date is Aug2016 and I am still pending for my i-526. I’ve seen people who applied 1 year later than I did got the approval recently (meaning they got the i-526 approved in an year).

    • Bo says:

      I am at the same situation. But I don’t think that this is the problem as first two cases for CMB Group 57 were approved a week ago.

    • EB5Forum says:

      The fine is about how they were marketing the groups with non registered agents (WhichEB5). It is not related to the CMB groups nor the EB5 process per se.

    • I guess this investigation is unlikely to have delayed your petition, since the investigation targeted practices from 2015 and earlier.

      The fine is not only about unregistered agents, but also targets specific CMB offerings for failure to comply with registration requirements. I guess that your offering would not be one of those included, since you invested in 2016. But you can look at the settlement order to check whether your LP was on the targeted list.

      A I-526 from August 2016 is not yet quite out of “normal” processing times per IPO processing time information, but you’ll get an opportunity to inquire/complain soon. (The case inquiry date is 8/8/2016 as of today.)

      Another blog commenter awhile back mentioned a social media group for CMB investors to share experience — I’ll look and see if I can find that for you.

    • CMB’s recent issue has nothing to do with the quality and reliability of its EB-5 projects, which are the most proven in the industry, so don’t worry. As far as processing timelines, USCIS is trying hard to catch up but with team adjudications, “first in, first out” is not the case. Hang in there, you are in good hands with CMB!

  3. Kid says:

    Looks like Indians now flooding the EB5 program too. LMAO.

    • Sid says:

      2018 is way worse than 2017 as well. The guesstimates are more than 2X applicants in 2018 from India compared to 2017. My guesstimate is 6 years for someone applying today from India to be current. We’ve been discussing this here recently: https://t.me/EB5VisaGroup

  4. Suzanne, you are such a class act…”ambivalent about freedom of information”…I call it “shameless”….

  5. Archit Patel says:

    Thanks Suzanne for such an amazing article. You are truly an inspiration in the industry, which otherwise generally does not believe in such a complete transparency of information. Wish USCIS IPO gets takes some inspiration from you.

    Quick question – Once a country reaches the cap (690) for the particular fiscal year, how is the unused portion of that fiscal year allocated among all the capped countries? Is it FIFO (First in First Out) or is it divided individually.

    Assuming in Mar’19, China, Vietnam and India all three consume their own 690 approvals for FY19, for the remaining year Apr-Sep’19, which applicants will get visa? Only China applications from 2014 and 2015 with approved I-526 or all three viz. Chinese from 2014-2015, Vietnamese from 2016-2017 and Indian from 2016-2017. In EB-2, where multiple countries are capped every year, every capped country is not rolled back to same date. They are all in different priority dates, won’t the same logic apply to EB5.

    Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Indian says:

      It will be FIFO. Most of all unused visa will go to China for next few years. Once country reaches cap, it just goes by priority date.

      Remember China is still in 2014 PD date processing and China had maximum applications in 2015. My estimate is for next ten years all unused visa will go to China only. More countries get backlogged, and it will be more pain to China.

    • Kishore says:

      No country is allowed to consume more that 7.1% (country quota in EB5) for the 1st 9 months of the calendar year ( starts October to September). In the last quarter visa officer will review and if there is not any demand for other countries than he/she will assign the extra visas to the most back logged country ( one’s with oldest priority date- aka China in Eb5). The process repeats as datas move to the next calendar year ( October) and the new year the dates move back to limit as per the 7.1 percent quota per country.

    • Sid says:

      It’s likely that India will different dates from Vietnam and China. There is no way to know but my guesstimate is in Q2 2019, the EB5 priority date for India will be in Q1 2017 and will take 6 years to get to Q4 2018. There were some large surges in applications from India in Q1 2017 and Q1 2018 and so it may take a whole year or more just to clear applications from the month of March 2018. Join us here for more info: https://t.me/EB5VisaGroup

      • EB5Forum says:

        In May 2018, when Vietnam retrogressed, it did to the same Chinese date of 2014. And in Oct 2018 Vietnam PD was Jan 2016. So I expect that in Q2 2019 India would retrogress to the same date as China (around 2014 or 2015) and Vietnam will do as well. In Oct 2019, with the new FY, dates will be reset considering the different line lengths. China around 2014/5, Vietnam around 2016 and India perhaps 2017? Till the 700 visas limit is reached and all the 3 countries will retrogress to the one with the older PD ( that is China 2014/5) around Q2 2020.

  6. Chandra Ojha says:

    Thanks Suzzane for another excellent article, actually an eye opener for Indians like me especially. Any guess or idea of what is the I 526 filing from Indians in FY 2018 up until now ?

    • kishore says:

      unofficially around 1000-1500

      • Chandra Ojha says:

        Thanks Kishore. That would entail 3000 – 4500 Green cards, which would need anywhere between 4 to 7 years as India will get maximally only 7 % and no more as thousands of Chinese investor have earlier priority date as well as rightful claim to spillover. So very soon Indian investors applying now will have wait time of almost 8 – 10 years, I guess. May be more.

  7. Chandra Ojha says:

    Thanks Sid and Kishore.

    I think among Indians, a lot of H1B visa holders are applying for EB5. I am one of them and am single, so only one GC. Lot of people I know are a couple, as their kids were born here. Do you all think that will impact the line for Indians as typical family size is less when the applicant is already in USA ? However I also realize that typical family size of Indian applicant from outside USA also tend to be larger.

    Is there a trend of faster I 526 approval if the source of funding is from earnings within the USA ?

    • kishore says:

      you can message me on telegram app if you have more questions at my telegram handle kishdu

    • kishore says:

      source of funds does not matter at the filing point but its easier during processing as USCIS will be able to establish the source if funds are from USA. Direct investment has a separate line compared to RC investment but processing times realistically have got worst and the lines are getting longer. It makes no difference if the applicant is in US or abroad.

      • Chandra Ojha says:

        What surprises me is how few, very few people have got I 526 approval in 4 – 6 months, if its purely a first come first serve.

  8. KJ says:

    If there are any CMB investors here, they can join https://t.me/CMBInvestors

  9. kishore says:

    Suzanne: is there an expedited eb5 as per this website. https://www.eb5fast.com/ its called eb5 of national interest. or this another fraud advertisement ?

    • The short answer: Expedite requests are a real thing in EB-5, but be careful to sort fact from hype in the promotion. No one can promise to expedite the time to get an EB-5 visa. An approved expedite request for a project is more likely than not to result in early attention to the I-526 petition for the investor in that project (this is a fact), which may result in that petition being approved earlier than it otherwise would have been (depending on individual case circs), which may result in the approval being forwarded to the visa stage earlier than it otherwise would have been (but I’ve heard reports of USCIS delaying on this for expedited petitions), which may result in the investor being documentarily qualified to claim a visa earlier than she otherwise would have been, which may result in getting a visa earlier than otherwise if (and this can be a big if) a visa number is available for her priority date at that point.

      Here are a few relevant articles: Anatomy of a Successful EB-5 Expedite Request (May 2013), Successful Expedited Case Processing in EB-5 (September 2018), and The Great EB-5 “Expedited Processing” Debate: The Issue of “False Inducement” (September 2018)

      • kishore says:

        Suzanne where can one find if USCIS has granted expedited requests for the project. Is there a petition/approval that classifies a project to be on expedite request

  10. max says:

    Lots of good information here Suzanne. For a single Indian filling in Oct 18, what kinda of timeline, wait time is expected till final GC ? From your spreadsheet it seems in for 3 qtrs in 18, about 337 visas issued (about 100 Applications ) and some 580ish petition received. I have heard some indian people getting their process complete in 15 months, so was wondering if that is still true.

    • The time for an Indian filing in October 2018 depends on the number of Indians who have filed I-526 in 2018, which we don’t know. Charlie Oppenheim of Department of State estimated a 5-year wait for Conditional Green Card for Indians filing as of April 2018 (based on data he had then for pending visa applications + pending I-526 from Indians). I guess that that time is now more like 6+ years based on what I hear of Indian investor filings since 4/2018. So that would be 6+ years to conditional green card + 2 years conditional residence + 3+ years I-829 processing times = about 11+ years to permanent green card. That estimate could change if the rules for visa allocation changes or USCIS improves I-829 processing times.
      https://blog.lucidtext.com/2018/04/25/4-23-visa-numbers-china-vietnam-india-brazil-s-korea-taiwan/

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