FY2019 Q2 EB-5 Petition Processing Report

USCIS has updated the Immigration & Citizenship Data page with data for petitions processed in FY2019 Q2 (January to March 2019).

The results are shocking. Instead of recovering from the already-dramatic 37% decrease in processing volume last quarter, IPO processing volume fell another 60% in Q2. To look at raw numbers, IPO was processing over 4,000 I-526 per quarter this time last year, but processed less than a 1,000 I-526 in FY2019 Q2. Four times fewer! USCIS apparently does not deign to hold EB-5 stakeholder meetings anymore, so we do not know what is happening behind the scenes. But a huge reduction in output has a limited number of possible explanations: drastic reduction in staff at IPO, drastic increase in time spent per petition, and/or decision to limit output. Has IPO lost resources in recent months? Is there just a pause on adjudications, for some reason? Perhaps IPO is focused, as it should be, on the oldest case in the backlog, and taking an unconscionable time over those cases?

We care about output, because processing volume determines processing times. If IPO is processing four times fewer petitions per quarter than last year, then obviously the backlog will reduce more slowly than we’d thought in 2018, and processing times will increase accordingly. The following scary chart allows visualizing how many quarters would be required to process the backlog, if FY2019 Q2 volumes were to continue going forward.

Nevermind the 25-40-month range for I-829 in the current USCIS processing times report; the average I-829 filed on top of the backlog in January 2019 would take 93 months to process if FY19 Q2 volumes continue. But surely this exponential output reduction must be an unnatural aberration and cannot continue indefinitely! In all its history, IPO has never shown such meager performance across the board as in the last two quarters. Meanwhile, note that receipts remain low.


See my EB-5 Timing page for links to past reports, and the EB-5 Timing Estimates page for customized timing analysis. Considering recent fluctuations, I’ve updated my estimate templates to facilitate modeling alternate scenarios.

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.

56 Responses to FY2019 Q2 EB-5 Petition Processing Report

  1. kishore says:

    may be they are busy checking for social media handles as part of background checks. just an opinion

  2. Jeff Drinkwater says:

    Susan-
    I am curious what you think the total redeployment market is?

    These stats show a backlog of almost 14,000 I-526 petitions and 8,000 I-829 petitions. That’s 22,000 petitions, if they each have on average 2-3 family members per $500k,
    That’s then 7,000 investments of $500k or $3.5B.

    Am I missing something??

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Franchesca says:

      Amazing how they have the guts to get that amount and do all these horrible things to investors

      • Kelly says:

        They definitely have the guts. Some PPMs made whole project I829 approval as one of the refund terms, which possibly trap all investors’ money even some have no backlog.

        In Chinese EB5 market, there are already redeployment cases going on, maybe in 2021 or 2022, it is turn for Indian and Vietnamese for fund redeployment.

  3. arunkumar says:

    I think they have stopped processing i526 something is wrong

    • Franchesca says:

      Is there a way to find out? Maybe we can create a group? Organize letters to congressman and the president?

  4. John says:

    was Q2 impacted by the govt shutdown?

    • USCIS is a fee-for services agency funded by immigrant fees, not the taxpayer, so it remains open during shutdowns.

      • Sid says:

        That’s not the whole story though. RC based EB-5, which is the overwhelming majority of I-526 applications, expired with the start of the shutdown. The USCIS/IPO mentioned at the time that while they were going to accept new applications, they would not work on them until the program was reauthorized.

        Here is my theory (albeit based on few facts): The IPO adjudicators have historically ignored direct EB5 applications since they are way more difficult to adjudicate – you do a business plan review and all you get to approve/deny is a *single* I-526 application. Whereas once the business plan review is complete for a RC project, you could potentially approve hundreds of i-526 applications leading to higher throughput metrics. During the shutdown, the adjudicators had no choice but to focus on EB5 direct applications. This would have led to a immediate and significant decrease in processing speed but more importantly made it obvious to the IPO management that direct cases were being ignored for a long time and have piled up. My guess is they came down hard on the adjudicators for cherry picking the easy cases and have mandated a stricter adherence to first come first serve rather than focus strictly on the output metrics of adjudicated petitions which were easy to game.

        In our telegram group, we have seen many long standing applications get approved in the last few months and a relative slowdown in adjudications for more recent cases. The overall slowdown in volume is consistent with my theory and observations on long standing adjudications.

        • Sid says:

          Forgot to add that this also explains the massive increase in the processing time increases in such a short time; the only logical explanation is that mix of the cases being processed has shifted to an older set of applications. A reduction in staff by itself *will not * result in drastic increase of average processing time over such a short period.

          However, a reduction in staff could partly explain the lower adjudication volume. It’s possible *both* things happened – (1) a temporary reallocation of IPO staff to help in other USCIS areas leading to the slower adjudication volume compounded with (2) the remaining IPO adjudicators forced to focus on the older cases. However, only (1) cannot explain the increase in processing time by itself though (2) by itself can explain the increased processing times and slowdown. My guess is that both (1) and (2) are the factors.

        • tpk129 says:

          They only stopped processing applications filed after the expiration date…they still had boatloads in the hopper from before the expiration date they had to process.

  5. Suzanne, Just wondering if we could advertise on your blog posts. Is this still a possibility?

  6. kishor says:

    Suzanne, how can we get insight into what is going on at IPO. This ridiculous wait time increase is really annoying for everyone. I mean how is the world can they take 5 years to process a document unless they have 1 person employed at the IPO

  7. suresh patel says:

    suzanne
    advise for my son i have filed 4 dec2018 i 526 in trayon international centre project in NC IT HAS EXPEDITED APPROVAL FOR I -526 APPROVAL FROM USCIS BECAUSE IT HAS GOVERNMENT INTEREST PROJECT SOME APPLICANT HAS I -526 APPROVAL WHO HAVE APPLIED IN NOV 2018 DEC 2018 JAN 2019 IN THIS PROJECT BUT MY SON HAS NOT STILL GET APPROVAL AND HIS FROM INDIA COUNTRY AND SILL IN USA ON F1 OPT AND HIS F1 OPT EXPIRE IN JAN 2020 AND STAY IN USA FOR ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS FILING I -428
    PLEASE ADVISE FOR MY SON WHAT TO DO FOR APPROVAL OF I -526 ANY MORE COMMUNICATION FOR EXPEDITED APPROVAL PROJECT

  8. dan says:

    suzanne, did you see wait times really increased again today?

  9. dan says:

    yes. there seems to be a serious issue at IPO. hope it resolves soon.

  10. Sameer Deshpande says:

    Hi everyone,

    I just got this email from Smart Business Broker, Inc.

    Any idea if this is true????

    ==========
    US government has completed the review of the EB-5 visa modernization rule and has increased the #EB-5 visa investment amounts to more than DOUBLE their current cost!

    See https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eoDetails?rrid=128858

    #EB5 visa Investors can profitably get green cards in a safer, cheaper, and faster manner under the #EB-1c category by co-investing in reputed franchises such as #Pizzahut, #Quiznos etc.

    Indian #EB-5 investors get temporary green cards after 9 years, and permanent green cards and their money back after 13 years. Indian investors can get temporary L1 visas in 3 months, permanent green cards in 4 years, and their money back in 5.5 years under the EB-1c category.

    EB-1C investors can earn profits while getting their green cards due to profitability of reputed franchises, while EB5 visa investors pay to get their green cards!

    The EB1-C investment amount of USD 460-500,000 per petition + fees of $60,000 are cheaper than EB-5 visa cost of $500,000 + $75000 in fees.

    As Permanent Residents, investors, their spouses, and minor children can live, work, study, or do business in the US.

    The US is the world’s largest economy, and offers amazing opportunities that are unavailable elsewhere!

    US permanent residence offers the following benefits:

    Law abiding & safe society

    Low interest and income tax rates

    Favorable labor laws

    Efficient judiciary

    Affordable housing

    Business friendly environment

    • Ana says:

      Hi Shaikh ahm I mean Deshpande, welcome back I was wondering if you got jailed for eb1c fraud.

      Anyways have you invested yet ?

      People here already know you are a fraud so stop wasting your time 😀

    • kishore says:

      can this post be removed. this is an advertisement for rubbish

      • Anyone who reads the comment will also see the responding comments, so I don’t think there’s an advertising function. But I will remove any future comments on this topic, since they’re not relevant to my EB-5 blog.

  11. tpk129 says:

    First 12 words of the first sentence are true. The rest is garbage…we don’t know what the OMB has done with the investment levels and won’t until they publish the document…monitor your Federal Register! How “co-investing” in a Pizza Hut will qualify you for EB-1c escapes me.

    • Sameer Deshpande says:

      Hi tpk129,

      Thanks for the quick response. Do you have any link that I can monitor? I just received a similar email from ILW too!

      Is it true that the changes to the TEA designation will basically cause all regional centers to shut down?

      • tpk129 says:

        Email Notifications Now Available https://www.federalregister.gov/reader-aids/office-of-the-federal-register-blog/2011/04/email-notifications-now-available

        The TEA changes will make it difficult…let’s say impossible..to fund properties in areas such as Manhattan, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, etc and claim they’re in high unemployment areas (TEAs) for EB-5 purposes. Not completely sure of the impact on Regional Centers, but if I worked for one, I would be looking for a new job.

      • tpk129 says:

        Forgot to ask…what did the ILW have to say in their email?

      • ShaikhKaAbba says:

        Haha Shaikh you are not so naive 😉 you are just trying to advertise your fraud plan. Don’t worry RCs won’t shut down, they just start new projects with right setup. All reputed RC keep starting new project every so often anyways.

        You think you are getting publicity by such comments but people here are smarter they know you are fraud. You are wasting your time, advertise elsewhere bro.

        Folks let’s send more fraud reports of this Shaikh to DHS so he gets jailed for immigration fraud sooner.

        • If advertisement, this is indeed counterproductive for Sameer considering the responses that can be expected here. But my mission is to educate about EB-5, not EB-1c opportunities and scams, so I’ll be deleting future comments re EB-1c.

          • Prahlad says:

            Thank you Suzanne. You are doing a wonderful job of keeping EB5 community informed and educated. I appreciate you deleting comments of these freeloaders that are clearly frauds.

        • AbdurRehman Shekhani says:

          Dear khaali dabba (empty box) who calls himself ShaikhKaAbba, I don’t think you actually read tpk129’s reply.

          I think (s)he is right and regional centers including USIF, Civitas, American Life, CanAm, etc. will basically shut down because I recall reading even earlier from online posts that the new regulations, if passed, will cause regional centers to collapse because the new TEA designation rules will cause them all to lose their TEA designations for all new petitions going forward, and the increase in investment amounts will anyway make EB-5 visa investment amounts unaffordable for over 99% of existing investors, with Canada and EU now set to get the lion’s share of investment based immigration market.

          I agree that it’s okay to ignore the Smart Business Broker firm and their EB-1c visa offerings as cheaper and faster alternatives to the EB-5 visas, but we really can’t ignore the fact that tpk129 is right in saying that all regional centers WILL shut down, because their business plans were made based on the assumption that they’d get long term access to cheap capital, and that simply won’t be true anymore as the EB-5 visa investor pool will dramatically shrink even at investment amounts of $800,000 or $900,000, leave alone the proposed investment amounts of $1,350,000 to $1,800,000.

          Think logically:

          Even today, would an Indian investor wait 8.5 years to get a conditional green card after investing $500,000 +$75,000 in fees, when they can easily get EU permanent residence in a Schengen country with the same amount of money in a matter of 4-5 months, and EU passports in 6 years, while the Indian investor who chooses EB-5 will only get a permanent green card in 14 years and a US passport in about 15 years?

          In 6 weeks, would any Indian investor want to invest $1,350,000 in order to get US green cards in 8.5 years when that same amount of money gets them EU passports with the unrestricted right to live / work / study / do business in the EEA (EU + Switzerland, Norway, and Liechtenstein) in less than 2 years?

          There’s simply NO way that even 3% of the existing regional centers will survive more than 2 years from now.

          • ShekhaniKaAbba says:

            EU and USA are apples and oranges while EU economy is declining USA is the only place in the world with economy flourishing. This is why people from allover the world including EU are immigrating to USA. You can’t compare USA with any other place.

            Your comparison of USA and EU is flawed so the argument of comparing investment amounts is bogus. Wait and watch EB-5 investment will continue, now with increased per investor amounts so overall creating more overall investment and more jobs. This also means RCs make more money. Your fraud ridden EB1c abuse has to be stopped. Folks please send more fraud reports of this Shaikh/Shekhani to USCIS.

  12. Roberto Virga says:

    I noticed today the estimated processing times for I-526 went down somewhat to 25.5-45 (from 29-45.5). Let’s hope this trend continues.

  13. Sameer Deshpande says:

    So, tpk129 is wrong?

    Even Suzanne said the same thing that tpk129 mentioned, when she mentioned at https://blog.lucidtext.com/2019/05/22/regulations-update-spring-2019/ that Regional Centers oppose “a regulation that would dramatically cut EB-5 demand with higher investment amounts and that would make urban TEAs more scarce.”

    At https://blog.lucidtext.com/2019/03/20/faq-for-potential-regulatory-changes-and-visa-bulletin-updates/ too, Suzanne mentioned that regional centers will be unable to continue due to the changes in the rules.

    You can say what you want to say, but I don’t think that tpk129 and Suzanne are wrong in saying that regional center investments will be riskier due to the changes in EB-5 visa rules.

    • At the moment, I’m not saying anything about the consequences of the EB-5 Modernization Regulation because we do not know what it currently contains. We do know that it has been changed significantly, in some way, from the last public version. We know that OMB met several times with a few powerful regional centers, and know the changes those RCs wanted OMB to make. But we can only wait to see what’s in the final rule. If the rule as revised still opposes the interests of those few endlessly deep-pocketed regional centers, they will surely move to block or at least indefinitely stall it by litigation. Unless they consider allowing regulations as part of a strategy to push regulation-trumping new legislation even more beneficial to themselves. For those of us not in the center of power, we must just wait to see what unfolds. I would hesitate to make any decision today contingent on an assumption about the content or timing of regulations.

      • tpk129 says:

        I appreciate that a couple of posters have inferred that I’m “right”, but I doubt it as in an entire year not one person in my family has says I’m right….and I’m the head of the household, pay for the groceries and shelter, sing karaoke, etc.…go figure!

        Take Suzanne’s comments seriously…she’s a wise woman. We don’t know what the final regs will say and while speculation is fun, it doesn’t make anybody any money or improve a family’s life. I disagree a little with the notion that the RCs will come out with guns blazing and start litigation if they view the outcome too negatively, but who knows? They’ve pillaged the market pretty deeply and I don’t know how many more fools are out there that will give them money with virtually no return and then sit back and wait 8 to 14 years to get a U.S. green card. I’m sure they’re some, but it won’t be easy making the sales going forward.

        One thing to keep in mind…if you think you’ve come up with a new gimmick to circumvent the rules, forget it…whatever it is, smarter people have already thought of it and it doesn’t work!

    • DeshpandeChaAjoba says:

      Deshpande urf Shaikh time to take your fraud tactics elsewhere, stop wasting our time. The way you are trying to use Eb1c is fraudulent. Hopefully you will be unmasked and jailed soon. People have been reporting you to DHS.

  14. Nickolas says:

    Suzanne, I started feeling that the notion of “Processing Time” is no longer about past processing time, but rather what to expect moving forward, even though the USCIS wrote that it should reflect the processing time for adjudications 2 months prior. Let’s observe how suddenly the “Processing Time” jumped to 45 months, and a few weeks later that we received Q2 processing statistics that showed adjudications of less than 1000 petitions within that quarter. This seems more like a sign to me that moving forward this is the outflow that we should expect from the USCIS.

  15. sameer Modi says:

    hi suzanne, have you noticed that the 2019 data has been removed from USCIS website. Both 1st quarter and 2nd quarter data is gone

  16. Chirag says:

    Have wrote this before and will write again ( My comment will likely not be published again)
    EB5 benefits everyone ( but the investor ) only if the process is dragged out as long as possible to keep the investor money blocked in the project and hence in the economy so that the jobs created can be sustained for years and years at no return ( and perhaps at a great loss to the investor.)
    Do not expect the wait time to improve for another decade or two.

    It is a pity that these facts are not highlighted by anyone anywhere in an impactful manner.

    • Hmmm…. maybe I should give up spending so much of my free time trying to present the facts in an impactful manner

      • tpk129 says:

        Suzanne…I read the post from Chirag and tried to figure out what was intended by the comment. Still haven’t reached a conclusion so something is wrong here and it may be in the manner the thought was communicated.

        Not sure how many times it has to be said that you shouldn’t be signing up unless you’re willing to wait a long time and not receive a market return on your investment.

        • Chirag. says:

          now we are talking.
          So tpk129 : In plainer language, I meant that EB 5 is rapidly becoming a Ponzi scheme even though the original intention was probably well meant

          I assume it is well known that wait times of up to 10 years are the norm when applying for EB 5? The vague ” long time” is not a good way to represent facts when asking people to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars…it is actually now not only about the market return on investment…Things are now heading towards losing the investment for many people

          The classic signs of a Ponzi scheme are all there:
          promise something and then not only not deliver, but keep promising delivery at a future point in time with no benefit to the victim but enrichment of the perpetrators .

          It is obvious that the billions of dollars currently in the EB 5 program will be rapidly pulled out by investors if they get the GC. A lot of the EB 5 created jobs may also be terminated. The most logical way to make sure the dollars stay in the Ponzi scheme is by delaying the proceedings and actually making it difficult to pull the money out by using a maze of poorly understood rules.

          The authorities can simply make it mandatory for all Regional centers to prominently display estimated wait times of 10-15 years when asking for EB 5 money ( such wait time display can be on the websites of the RC or other advertising material). The problems is that even the authorities remain vague about information.
          A lot of people are benefiting from this vagueness and keeping the waters murky. The only ones losing are the investors.

          • tpk129 says:

            Regional Centers and immigration agents/attorneys bear considerable responsibility, but why is it investors are excused for not performing their own due diligence and living with a bad decision they made? They’re at fault too and why I feel empathy for them, I do not give them a pass for contributing to their own predicament.

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