FY2018 Q4 Petition Processing Data

USCIS is finally starting to update its Immigration & Citizenship Data page with data for petitions processed in FY2018 Q4 (July to September 2018). As usual, I’ve made charts to highlight salient features.

I like to look at annual trends in receipts and adjudications, because this reflects demand and allows understanding and predicting processing times at the Investor Program Office.

The backlog of pending petitions grows and processing times increase when IPO receives more petitions in a year than it can process in a year. That happened for I-526 from 2010 to 2017, when IPO finally started to catch up. In 2018, IPO surged ahead, processing more than twice the number of I-526 received. At this rate, the entire backlog of I-526 pending as of year-end 2018 will be adjudicated in 2019, and new I-526 can expect processing times of less than one year. I-526 processing times were a major factor for people who filed during peak demand in 2015 and 2016, and thus faced years-long processing on average. I-526 processing times will fade as a consideration, as new petitioners can expect months-long waits on average. (My I-526 prediction spreadsheet forecasts future processing times from petition volume.) Meanwhile, I-829 faces continued long processing times because adjudication volume is so small compared to the backlog. So long as IPO can only process less than 3,000 I-829 in one year, it will take 2-3 years just to get through the backlog of 7,660 I-829 pending as of October 2018. But we hope to see I-829 volumes improve considerably in 2019.

IPO’s total output was about the same in FY2018 Q4 as in Q3, just with a few more I-829 processed at the expense of a few fewer I-526. Meanwhile, the number of forms received by IPO remained relatively low in Q4. There was a small I-526 surge in advance of the September 30, 2018 regional center program sunset date, but nothing like in previous years. There continue to be very few new regional center applications and amendments, and high denial rates for previously-filed I-924.

I’m putting out my PayPal link again, particularly as an appeal to industry colleagues who depend on me to research and report news. How much more work would you have to do, if blog.lucidtext.com weren’t here to watch for and process EB-5 updates? If this blog saves you considerable time and effort, consider helping to make it worthwhile for me. (I am also contemplating advertising options, but have not settled on a strategy for appropriate and effective presentation within the constraints of the blog format.)

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

40 Responses to FY2018 Q4 Petition Processing Data

  1. KJ says:

    As always, thanks for the compilation of statistics !

  2. Harry says:

    Gr8 Job.!! Well appreciated..!!

  3. #1 Fan says:

    Awesome work as usual, Suzanne! Thanks for everything.
    Aside: I was looking through the prediction spreadsheet and I think the formula for Cell C:6 of the “Prediction” worksheet might need to be extended to include the new data you’ve added.

  4. Vijay says:

    Suzanne,My priority date 3/23/2018(Indian )
    Based on your predictions my 526 should be adjudicated by 6/23/2019. Will India visa availability dates retrogress by then.
    If they don’t can a apply for adjust status immediately.And If does retrogress will it get current some time in 2020?

    Thanks for your contributions

    • The important thing to understand is that India is already over-subscribed based on the number of I-526 filed; the only reason the visa bulletin is current at the moment for India is that not enough Indians have moved from the I-526 stage to the visa application stage. Charles Oppenheim of DOS predicted last year that he will have given out all @700 visas available to Indians for FY2019 by May 2019. After that, India will have a cut-off date that moves enough to release @700 Indians to get visas annually. Based on backlog info that we have from USCIS and DOS, I expect that your priority date will probably be current in 2023. These posts give more info https://blog.lucidtext.com/2018/11/05/aila-iiusa-forum-updates-kendall-oppenheim-visa-availability/ https://blog.lucidtext.com/2019/02/22/retrogression-math/

    • Sid says:

      @Vijay: The best thing you can do is to get prepared to file AOS immediately after getting I-526 approval (and hope India has not retrogressed by then). The two reasons that take people a long time to file AOS is (1) Medical/I-693 which needs to be done no more than 60 days before filing AOS and can take 3-30 days (2) getting birth certificates that conform to the USCIS standards (for example, it must be signed/dated within a year of birth). Arguably, you can file AOS without a medical to lock in the AOS application date (and send it in right after) but you need to check with your lawyer on whether all your AOS documents are in on order (especially Birth Certificate). At this point, you need to prepared and hope (a lot) for good luck. No reason you can’t get the AOS application submitted within 48 hours of getting a I-526 receipt if you prepare. Here is a telegram group if you want more advice from other investors: https://t.me/EB5VisaGroup

      • Vijay says:

        Sid,
        I got 526 approved (11 months 20 days). And my lawyer is getting paperwork ready to file 485 . Hopefully atleast I will get my Ead approved before date retrogresses.

        • VS says:

          Congratulations Vijay.
          Do you know if any other investors from your project with 2018 PD also received their approvals, before or with you?

          • Vijay says:

            Yes , a few who applied at same time in March 2018 . One of them got approved in less than 6 months .

        • Sid says:

          All you need to do is file AOS. Once you do, your EAD and AP will get approved even if your priority date retrogresses

  5. Indian says:

    EB5 Investor specific telegram group for active discussions.

    Telegram Group Link – https://t.me/EB5VisaGroup

    Group has 426 members as of today. The majority are Investors, consultants, EB5 professionals, RC executives & Attorney.

  6. VS says:

    Suzanne,

    Just now I made a small donation to your Paypal account. Your efforts are really helpful. I hope you continue doing that.

  7. Thenga Mandai says:

    Suzanne,

    Would you know if the EB-5 category is included in these proposed bills? If so, what would be the impact it would have for everyone except from China with pending I-526 applications?

    https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/nri/visa-and-immigration/two-new-bills-in-the-us-congress-promise-to-end-the-decades-long-wait-for-green-cards/articleshow/68235571.cms

    Best,

  8. Zsigmond Varga says:

    Thank you!

  9. Dan says:

    Oh dear. They have just updated the I829 now and more delays. 37.5 months. The wait grows longer and longer….

  10. Pingback: Overview: I-526 and I-829 Processing Data for FY2018 Q4 - Latest News about EB5 Visa

  11. sarabu says:

    Hi Suzzie

    I have been following your blog for 2 years. You do outstanding work as always. I have a quick question, hoping you can help me with it. My, I 526 application has been in pending status for more than 818 days !!. Even when I tried Outside normal processing request, I still got a reply as pending. What Should I do now? At this point should I give up on my application? Any comment is appreciated

    Yours Sincerely
    Sarabu

  12. samir says:

    I have filed my i -526 petition in July-2018 so as per your data experience, when i will get approval for I-526? I am from India.

  13. samir says:

    And I would also like to know when I could get conditional green card and permanent green card(month/year)?

  14. Ash says:

    Small contribution from my side to your efforts

  15. Chirag says:

    Thanks Suzanne for your invaluable contribution

    I filed my I 526 in September 2017 ( India). I have submitted the business plan and shown that I have the necessary funds ( all of the capital I am investing is legally earned in the United States). My question is :

    1. Do I need to have the business up and running at this stage or can I wait till my I 526 is approved (hopefully) and then start the business per my plan…or can I wait even longer and wait for my visa number to become available? I do not want to put my time and resources into the business at this stage as my understanding is that before I 526 approval, there is no need to show that the capital is invested or the jobs created. If the two year clock begins when the conditional permanent residence is issued, I am potentially looking at another 3 to 4 years before I get the CPR and hence do not want to expend so much time in my new business right now.

    Immensely thankful for your efforts,
    Chirag.

    • Chirag,
      The business doesn’t necessarily need to be up and running before I-526 filing, but it can’t be merely hypothetical or speculative at that stage either. Part of the EB-5 “at-risk” requirement is to show substantial evidence of business activity prior to I-526 filing, such that USCIS has reason to believe that the business really can and will proceed in a predictable manner to use EB-5 investment and create jobs. I have many specific examples and need to write a post about this, as time permits. In the meantime, better consult with the lawyer.
      Suzanne

      • Chirag says:

        Thank you for the clarification.
        I have created an LLC and the capital is in the LLC’s account. The capital is currently invested in U.S traded securities and hence subject to market risks as well.
        My case seems to be somewhat unique and hopefully USCIS will understand…Litigation is not the route anyone wants to take but we are prepared for that if the application is rejected.
        It seems odd and unrealistic that USCIS would want capital invested and jobs created at the
        I 526 filing stage when most people who apply for EB 5 and file the I 526 are not even in the United States…How can an agency expect someone in ( for example) India or China who has probably not even been to the U.S once to invest a half or 1 million dollars and create jobs and run a business..

        For example, I am on H1 visa. I want to start my own medical clinic and practice as a physician. This will let me invest EB 5 capital in my clinic and employ folks…However, since I do not have authorization to work for anyone beside my current employer ( who has sponsored my H1)…how can I work in my own clinic? This is like a real time Matrix movie plot.

        Similarly, what if I start a business and employ 10 people full time and keep the business running for 2 years and then close the business while my visa number is pending and my I 526 is approved…Can I make a case that I operated a NCE for 2 years and kept 10 people employed and hence fulfilled the requirements for a permanent green card..
        vagueness galore and the USCIS is probably risking many law suits as the backlog increases…

        • There is a fundamental catch-22 that prevents EB-5 from being an effective entrepreneur visa. The business needs to get underway for the petitioner to get EB-5 status, yet the entrepreneur petitioner needs status to develop the business. That’s why EB-5 is usually just an investor visa in practice, with petitioners investing in a business operated by someone else. But be careful, because the “business activity” requirement, though very counterproductive and unfair, is not ambiguous in EB-5 policy, and a denial based on that requirement would give more basis for suing your attorney than USCIS, I’m afraid. The business activity issue is rooted in this precedent decision FYI: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2014/07/25/3362.pdf
          Regarding your last question, I think this is a relatively grey area. By policy, you should qualify so long as the job creation requirement was met (as it should be with 10 employees for two years), and so long as the enterprise isn’t dissolved, and redeploys the capital until you reach the I-829 stage.

  16. Sid Sharma says:

    Really outstanding and informative compilation of data.

  17. S R says:

    Suzanne, I have been following your blog for the last couple of years. Your efforts are invaluable and you are truly the “go-to” person for any information on EB5. Kudos and Well done.

    My I-526 (Non-china born) has been pending since June 2016 (1060 days or 35 months as of today). Funny thing is that I was a replacement inventor in an RC project that already had 19/20 approvals (one investor had backed out) so I expected my approval to be granted much sooner but luck has not been on my side. Me and my law firm have tried various methods of inquiry and expediting including the “escalate” email and the ombudsman process but we only get a standard programmed response which does not tell me what is happening to my I-526.

    Do you have any suggestions for me ? Did you ever managed to get hold of an updated version of this very useful file from Oct 2018 https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Working%20in%20the%20US/i526list.pdf ?

  18. Aravind says:

    Greetings Suzzane,

    Glad to see all your helping way for information.

    Myself Indian national applied I-526 (EB5) on 28th November 2018. When I can expect approximate time to get my I-526 approved.

    Thanks in advance

    Aravind

  19. Harsha Ganatra says:

    Hello,
    We have applied I-526 on March 21-2018 (India) and not heard anything yet from USCIS. Any idea when to expect I-526 approval?

    Thank you!

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