FY2018 EB-5 Visas by Country

The US Department of State has published Report of the Visa Office 2018 Table V Part 3, which gives a tally of visas (conditional green cards) issued by country for the Employment Fifth preference (EB-5) in FY2018. The major story in the FY2018 report is the increase in EB-5 visas issued to applicants born outside of mainland China.

EB-5 in the early 2000s used relatively few visa numbers overall, and only really took off with the increase of EB-5 interest from/in China after 2008. Then China-born investors drove growth and claimed a majority of visas until the total number of EB-5 visas possible to issue hit its ceiling: the annual quota of about 10,000 visas. Since that ceiling was reached in FY2014, there’s been no room for EB-5 to grow — China and the rest of the world just have to jockey each other for the available annual visas. The decreasing number of EB-5 visas issued to China-born applicants since 2014 does not primarily reflect decreasing demand from China (China still dominates the backlog), but increasing demand from other countries that decrease the number of visas available to China.

FY2018 data shows a marked increase not only in total number of applicants from outside China, but also in the number of countries supplying those applicants, and in the number of countries with a relatively large number of applicants each. EB-5 marketers care about this, because it helps identify the range and depth of market potential outside of China. Past China-born investors care about this, because their future wait times depend on the nature of incoming non-China demand (with best case scenario being demand concentrated in a few countries that will become blocked by the per-country cap, and worst case being large total demand spread out over many countries).

We want to read EB-5 visa reports and draw conclusions about demand for EB-5 investment opportunities. So a few reminders to qualify such conclusions:

  • The Visa Office report indicates the number of green cards issued for conditional permanent residence. To track visa numbers back to investor detail, it’s necessary to factor in the time between investment and visa issuance (about 1 to 5 years in 2018 depending on investor origin and I-526 processing time), and the number of visas per investor (about 3 on average).
  • The Visa Office report only directly reflects demand for countries that take significantly less than 700 visas (ie less than the 7% per-country cap). For countries that exceed the cap, the number of visas issued is not the number they demanded, but the number they could get. In FY2018, Vietnam got 7% of total EB-5 visas pursuant to the per-country cap, regardless of how many Vietnamese were ready to apply, and China got 48% of visas because that’s what was left for the oldest applications after demand from undersubscribed countries was satisfied. On the other hand, India remained under the per-country cap in FY18, so its 585 visas directly reflect the number of FY18 applicants (more than threefold increase from the previous year). But keep in mind, lengthy I-526 processing times mean that the FY18 surge in India visa applications reflects a surge in investments from India that happened 1-2 years ago. For a better sense of recent demand trends, see the log of pending I-526 by country and priority date that USCIS published in October 2018.

I’ve expected to see an increasing number of visas associated with direct EB-5 investments, but that hasn’t been true so far. Regional center investments accounted for 94% of EB-5 visas issued in FY2018, as compared with 93% in FY2017 and 91% in FY2016. For reference, here is my post on FY2017 EB-5 Visas by Country

I haven’t had time yet to update and recalculate my backlog calculation spreadsheet. But I will add one table here as follow-up to ILW’s article EB-5 Industry Misunderstands Retrogression (12/31/2018). The article estimates that “India generated close to $500 million in EB5 investments in 2018, and it is on track to generate $1 Billion in 2019 and $2 Billion in 2020. Indian EB-5 is a $3 Billion opportunity in the coming two years.” The article goes on to rightly correct misconceptions about how EB-5 visa allocation works, but omits one important calculation: what happens if one puts $3 billion dollars (12,000+ visa applicants) from one country in line to a gate that can only issue about 700 visas annually.

If we want to make Row A in that table a reality, and how wonderful that would be, then we have to deal with the constraints that turn successful markets into backlog tragedies. Let’s put the pressure on Congress for visa relief. Otherwise, ethical promoters will have no option but to reduce the amount of investment they try to raise, or to support proposals dramatically increasing the minimum investment per investor.

UPDATE: I’ve added a EB-5 Timing page to collect links to data and posts related to EB-5 visa availability, visa allocation, and wait times. If you would like to order a personalized timing estimate, see the EB-5 Timing Estimates Page.


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.

33 Responses to FY2018 EB-5 Visas by Country

  1. Marigotus says:

    Dear Suzanne; excellent reporting as usual!

    One question. I know that the country of birth is what it determines the visa allocation and queues. How would my family situation have been reported in the table above?

    My wife and myself were born in Argentina, 3 of my children were born in Brazil and the last one in Switzerland. Would all work of us the lumped into Argentina, since I’m the investor? Or split amongst all the countries? We received our visa in FY2018.

  2. Colin Behring says:

    Great work as usual, thanks Suzanne.

  3. Hui says:

    Why nearly 500 less visas issued in 2018?

  4. Pingback: Total Collapse: Chinese Share of EB-5 Program Falls by 45% '18, Lowest in 10 Years - Investment Migration Insider

  5. Richard says:

    100000 Chinese, 4600 visa per year, the backlog would be 20+ years. obviously the visas to Chinese would be decrease year after year, if average visas per year is 3000 to Chinese, that would be 33+ years. what is the end to those Chinese investors?

    • EB5Forum says:

      I don’t know from where you got those 100,000 Chinese. There are around 8,000 Chinese investors waiting for I526 adjudication (check Suzanne’s link). That would be processed in 2 years. Even receiving less than 50% of the available visas.

      If the trend of lower Chinese interest remain, we may find that it would return to more civilized waiting times.

      Market would have balanced the program. If we had to wait for legislation, it would never happen.

      • Richard says:

        According to USCIS datas, EB5 application:
        2015, 14373 ( china 13530) cases.
        2016, 14147( china 10948) cases,
        2017, 12165(Chin 8771) cases.
        2018, about 6740 ( china about 2490) cases,
        that is, (from 2015.01.01 to 2018.09.30), world total 47245 cases, and Chinese 35918 cases,
        almost of these 35918 cases are waiting in the EB5 waiting line, the total Chinese people is 35918*2.8*92% , that is about 100000 chinese.
        I do not understand why you only calculate the investors who has passed I526? all the investores have paid for it and more than 90% of them will pass I526 petiton within next 2 years. the more serious backlog will
        we can not analyze it statically, it should be well predicted as long as these datas are reliable.
        if Chinese investors have not any hope for legislation as u say. , USCIS should give them an exit from this game, letting RCS return money to those who do not want to wait for visa anymore.

        • EB5Forum says:

          Most of those cases have already been adjudicated. So there are no tens of thousands Chinese waiting for their GC.

          As I already said, look what Suzanne already linked above, and you will see that there are only 8,180 Chinese investor pending.

          You can find the link here:

          Click to access i526list.pdf

          • Chandra Ojha says:

            Those are I 526 application pending. Right ? What about approved I 526 waiting for I 485?
            India is very soon going to meet the Chinese fate. There will be tens of thousands of Chinese and Indian investors waiting for decades.

          • Richard says:

            I disagree with u! please check the updated datas issued by USCIS website!

  6. Richard says:

    Chandra Ojha tell us a truth: India is very soon going to meet the Chinese fate, and Vetland.
    and what are the next victims?

    • Chandra Ojha says:

      @ Richard : I have nothing against your data. I hope and pray that you are right. I hope that situation is not as bad as I think it is. I am just a desperate investor. After training for 7 years in some of the most competitive places and building a Heart Hospital from scratch, unfortunately my visa slavery has no end. I have been cheated a lot by my first employer- victim of “wage theft” because of my visa hostage situation, then took up a job with a University system with promise of EB1B which I don’t see happening as naturally nobody wants to help a very profitable slave. I have already invested but after putting everything of what I had + secured loans, I am still looking at 4 years for I 485 and possibly 7 years for capital redemption if it at all happens.

      Then every 6 months, I have to have sleepless nights, not knowing if the program will exist or not. I am not sure what side of EB5 are you on. Perspective is very different for a promoter vs investor (especially Chinese or Indian). What’s your take on Chinese and India’s backlog ?

      • Richard says:

        @Chandra Ojha:I am a Chinese desperate eb5 investor as well. I am so sad to hear your situation. while our situation is also disillusionary, when we invested EB5, Mr.Charlie forcasted the backlog only 6 years, we were so gullible to USA offical forcast and have never doubted it before.
        but now, even the investors in end of 2014 would have to wait 6 years and about 100000 investors are waiting in the line. according current progress, we would have to wait 20+ years. it is also a miserable reality for us.
        after 20 years, I will be more than 60 years old, our children will be more than 30, what is the use of EB5? so we only want to refund our money(half life earning) now.
        but EB5 law seems no exit for those who want quit even they do not want visas anymore.
        we pay much for such a borsome work while also be deemed as unreasonable people. rediculous!

        • Chandra Ojha says:

          @ Richard: If anybody can understand your pain, its probably me. Everyday when I think of my struggles and as a result my inability to have a life, I seek solace from the immense hardship and struggle of people like yours. For somebody in India and China, 500 K is not just a life long earning but for most of us, we have put everything at stake. I am so so sorry Richard. I wish I could be of any help, unfortunately I am in a similar boat, thankfully in less choppy waters.

          • Sameer Deshpande says:

            Just WHY aren’t you guys looking at EB-1c as an option? Am I the only smart guy, or am I missing something?

          • Chandra Ojha says:

            @ Sameer : I don’t qualify for Eb1C. I am a practicing Interventional Cardiologist. How can I qualify for multi-national manager position ? Anyways, I have invested in July 2018. Now its a waiting game with lots n lots of uncertainties.

          • Richard says:

            Thanks for your understanding!
            eb5 law has become absurd after long backlog in 2015.
            many terms were designed based on the period 5~6 years, but when it is prolonged into 10+ years, or 20+ years, even 30+ years , it also becomes unfair, unjust and rediculous,out of common sense. it respects neither worldwide investors nor USA dignity.

            anyway, we are waiting for USA great men understanding it as well. being an great nation, IUSA should have the ability to update these old law to common sense.

            At the very least, since they do not want to give us visas now, ok, USA senators & govnmnet should agree these Interested parties to refund our money, and let us sail away from each other.

  7. Chandra Ojha says:

    @ Richard : I think the fair thing would be to change the policy of capital redemption to 5 years ( if the project is completed – which it usually does) after the investment.

    • RICHARD says:

      @Chandra Ojha:
      We hope so as well, if it is true investors would keep silent in it.
      but the problem is : according eb5 law, your advice is nonlicet.

  8. Pingback: EB-5 Notes - Carolyn Lee PLLC

  9. IGBOT says:

    It is confusing how US Consulate overseas process visa/visa scheduling (Vietnam). From Oct 2018, they issued about 100 visa, and gradually reduced the following months until Feb 2019.
    Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb
    I51 33 9 6 1 3
    I52 21 10 9 4 4
    I53 68 26 14 4 8

    There has been 200 visa issued from Oct 18 – Feb 19 which mean about 500 visa available until year end. I don’t understand why USCIS has to put a Final Action Date for Vietnam while there are a number of available visa.

  10. Bobby says:

    Hi Suzanne, kudos to you nice research done by you. I am from India and my I-526 application receipt date is Sep 2016. My I-526 was approved in Feb 2019. Now I am waiting for NVC to process application and forward it to consulate, as India is still current in visa numbers. I wrote email to NVC and they replied that they received approval notice from USCIS in May 2019 and they will start working on it within 8 weeks.

    Now my query is that if NVC takes longer time in processing my application and if meanwhile India’s priority dates get back logged, as per your informed guess how long will I be waiting approximately? Will it move back to sep 2016 or sep 2014 like china?

    Thanks in advance

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