Pending I-526 by country as of 10/2018

There’s an EB-5 Support page on the USCIS website that provides an email address for IPO, and instructions for how and when to communicate through the IPO mailbox. I’ve dismissed this contact option, having only heard and experienced reports that emailing the IPO mailbox yields nothing but a canned response and no action. But what do you know, sometimes it works. On October 25, 2018, IPO responded to an email from one of my readers with this extremely valuable information: “Shortly after replying to your email, Immigrant Investor Program Office management asked the webmaster to post online a table containing I-526 data. Here’s the link:” The link leads to a table that breaks down all I-526 pending at IPO as of October 2018 by investor country of origin and priority date. Thank you IPO management for this transparency! Program integrity depends on informed decisions, which in turn depend on information. We understand that these figures are probably subject to change since they’re so recent, and haven’t gone through the months-long review process that normally precedes public data posting. That’s just fine — our decisions need data timeliness far more than minute precision. And thank you reader for making the request and for bringing the answer to public attention. Otherwise this data treasure might have rested unnoticed on the USCIS website, or been hoarded by a few.

The charts and tables below highlight features of the data that I consider particularly interesting. The pending I-526 numbers by country help explain why Department of State predicts backlogs and visa wait times for certain countries. The pending I-526 numbers by receipt date illustrate how long currently-pending petitions have been waiting for adjudication. And the figure for total pending petitions, combined with data from other sources, suggests that I-526 receipts may have plummeted in FY2018. That’s bad news for the US economy, job creation, and destitute business plan writers like me whose revenue depends on new EB-5 demand. But it’s good news for EB-5 program sustainability. So long as the EB-5 visa cap remains at about ten thousand for investors plus family, the program can unfortunately only sustainably accommodate three to four thousand investor I-526 per year on average.



(But something in my understanding or calculation must be off, since the official data for FY2018 shows 4,469 I-526 filings just in FY18 Q1 and Q2.)

I’ve added the data from USCIS to the I-526 tab and Country Focus tab of my Backlog spreadsheet.


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

31 Responses to Pending I-526 by country as of 10/2018

  1. EB5Forum says:

    Three comments:

    India with approval rate of 66%! Brazil and Taiwan also not good. Lawyers working with those countries are not doing their job correctly. But for sure they are being paid.
    Indeed 2018 was a slow year. Seems that the market has achieved what regulators and legislators where not able to.
    China may have today “just” a 6 year wait. If we consider that, moving forward, they can get just 50% of all visas, with the increase of demand of Vietnam, India, Brazil and South Korea. It would consist of 2 years of I526 approval wait, plus 4 years of visa number wait.

    • EB5Forum says:

      Two more comments:

      Shame on USCIS, 74 I526 pending from 2012/2013??

      I know that the table shows I526 pending, and not received. But for 2018 it should be more or less the same. In September 2018, India surpassed China as the first country of received I526! That must be the first time in a long time.

    • Prahlad says:

      The approval rate here is using older data and it is completely bogus for predicting future. Last year India rejection rate was under 15%.

  2. LK says:

    Korean here, filed I-526 on Aug 2016, still pending….. Fortunately the very first petitioner within our project just got approved last week (Apr 2016 petition). Hopefully I get approved soon…

    • Lan Nguyen says:

      My case is Jun 2016 and I’m still waiting … My guess is approval will be either end of this year or early Jan 2019

  3. Raj says:

    Suzanne – USCIS list shows the pending I-526 not the filed numbers…thats why you see the discrepancy

  4. Prahlad Purohit says:

    The approval rates need a correction please check this data from IIUSA snapshot –

  5. Prahlad says:

    Suzan I have sent you an email with the full document you requested. Thanks,

  6. Sid says:

    Hi Suzanne, I think your estimates are likely underestimating the true demand. As per, 2862 I-526 were received in FY 2018 Q1 (Oct 2017 – Dec 2017) but as per, only 2261 are pending from the same quarter (Oct 2017 – Dec 2017). The vast majority of the 601 investors whoa re not pending (2862 – 2261) are unlikely to have been allocated a visa yet since they are just likely filing their CP/AOS. This means the demand for visas is higher than just the pending numbers imply. The same thing is true to a smaller extent for FY18 Q2 as well as FY17 Q4.

  7. SK says:

    Suzanne, As usual wanted to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being the sole informal knowledge source for the IPO process. The information you provided is very helpful.

    The part that might be helpful for all of us is to understand the quota restriction and how the remaining quota is allocated to other countries. We can see that there is some method to a clearing process being used to clear the backlog as it seems that April 2016 seems like the where the broom is right now.

    Do you have any knowledge on how the quota process is spread over the remaining countries other than china…

    Regards… SK

    • P says:

      The visa allocation happens in two parts-

      First each country gets upto the per-country limit count of visas. ie. about 700 visas accommodate only about 230 investors annually. This allocation happens for per country queue in the order of priority date for filers of that country.

      Second any leftover visas are allocated in the oldest priority dates order disregarding the country. The China backlog has the oldest priority dates in the system and thus first claim on all visas left over after the up-to-700 per country allocation. Effectively for several years to come China will get all of these leftover Visas.

      • SK says:

        thank you very much for your quick response. You are quite aware of the process. Thank you.

        Do you know if (1) this allocation (700) happens at the beginning of the year or in smaller chunks over the calendar year ? (2) is an applicant from a non-China country facing a backlog due to this quota ?

        • P says:

          The allocation happen at tail end of AoS adjudication or CP so it happens throughout the year as GC are issued.
          USCIS moves priority dates forward to get enough adjustment applications in a year. Typically the dates move most at start of a year (October). USCIS also moves date during rest of the year to generate enough demand for that year. Basically USCIS forecasts application it would receive and then adjust dates to get enough I485 filed for a year that would use number in that year.

          China has thousands of application ahead of backlog date for any another country so the leftover (over 700) go exclusively to China at this time and several years to come. Note that the leftover goes in order of priority date disregarding country so for any other country to get a single leftover, the China backlog needs to clear up upto the backlogged date of the other country.

          • P says:

            You also asked if any other country facing backlog.due to the 700 limit?

            Yes several countries for instance India has backlog of about 6 years. 5 years alone due to pending I526 and more from approved i526 pending CP/AoS.

            Vietnam has similar backlog and there are few more countries read Suzan’s blogpost for full details.

  8. HM says:

    Hi Suzanne, I have been following your blog for a while, thank you very much for your well-written articles and analysis. I just received my I526 approval today (filed in December 2017). My other friend who invested in the same project also got approval, I got a feeling that they group the investors by the project to proceed applications. Also, I notice from the most recent Visa bulletin that filling the date for China investors in chart B is 1 month difference from chart A, and the filling date for all other investors are current. Why there is such a difference?

  9. eric yao says:

    There appears to be serious discrepancies of the data. As of 12/31/2017, there was 24,627 I-526 pending. If we exclude approximately 5,000 non China pending petitions, there were roughly 20K Chinese I-526s. As of 12/31/2017, Chinese visa in NVC was about 26K. Assuming 3 persons per petition and 90% I-526 approval rate, there was about 80K Chinese waiting in the system.

    However, based on the most recent data, # of pending Chinese 526s is only 8180, and Chinese in NVC is 32,834. With same assumptions of approval rate and family size, there are only 55K Chinese waiting.

    What has happened to the Chinese waiters over last 10 months that would have reduced the number of waiters from 80K to 55K???

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