2/2020 Visa Bulletin India FAD

The February 2020 Visa Bulletin has a Final Action Date of September 1, 2018 for India.  This represents another dramatic jump (with the January visa bulletin having a May 1, 2018 final action date). I previously wrote about overall EB-5 visa timing in 2020. This post attempts additional clarifications specific to EB-5 petitioners and applicants born in India.

February’s visa bulletin does mean:

  • that visas can be issued in February to qualified Indian applicants with priority dates before 9/1/2018 (Qualified applicants are at the visa stage, having already received I-526 approval)
  • that there are few Indian applicants at the visa stage (A note at the end of the January 2020 visa bulletin explains that the India final action date will proceed rapidly in 2020 so long as demand is low — i.e. so long as few Indians are in a position to apply for a visa)

February’s visa bulletin does not mean:

  • that India demand is low at the I-526 stage
  • that visas are available to people with pre-9/1/2018 priority dates whose I-526 are still pending
  • that USCIS has processed or will soon process most India I-526 with pre-9/1/2018 priority dates
  • that Department of State has already finished issuing visas to all Indians with priority dates before May 1, 2018 (the final action date in January 2020’s visa bulletin)
  • that having reached September 2018, India’s final action date will continue to advance in the future, and will not turn back

In fact, USCIS indicates that it is currently working on I-526 filed 32.5 to 49.5 months ago (i.e. 2015 to 2017 priority dates). I-526 adjudications are not guided by the visa bulletin. Ideally, USCIS would process petitions in the order received, so that people reached the visa stage more or less in order by priority date. But evidently, this is not the case. Some 2018 priority dates are getting visas now even as some earlier priority dates remain at the I-526 stage.

We know that Indians filed at least 525 I-526 petitions from January through August 2018. (That’s how many I-526 were pending from those priority dates as of October 2018, when USCIS published this I526list report.) Over 500 I-526 would conservatively result in over 1,000 visa applications. Over 1,000 visas would take over one year to issue. So when the Visa Bulletin jumps from January to September 2018 in just three months, it’s evident that most people with those priority dates just haven’t even reached the visa stage. If they had, the visa bulletin would slow down to the time needed to issue over 1,000 visas.  And recall the 781 Indian I-526 with pre-2018 priority dates that were still pending at USCIS at the end of 2018 — some of those must still be in the system as well.

For Indians with priority dates before 2019, I suggest gazing at the I526list report from October 2018. Add up the number of pending I-526 with priority dates before yours. Estimate the number of visa applicants associated with those I-526. Subtract the number who could possibly have received visas since then, considering the number of I-526 adjudicated worldwide and number of visas issued to Indians since October 2018. The result estimates the number of people still with priority to get a visa before you do — assuming they can reach the visa stage. That result divided by 700 is your approximate wait time, in a FIFO world. But we’re not in a FIFO world, as the disconnect between USCIS processing time reports and the visa bulletin shows. As things stand, some people from India will get a visa unexpectedly early, and some unfairly late.  The visa bulletin will jump around, depending on who reaches the visa stage when. There’s room for hope, and room for fear — just not much predictability at this stage.

 

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.

26 Responses to 2/2020 Visa Bulletin India FAD

  1. Harry says:

    Hi, Can someone advice, what is the last I-526 approval date for Indian applicant..!! My Date is current as per Feb bulletin but I am still waiting for approval.!! Any tracker or info would help to set the expectations .!!

  2. Shruti says:

    Hi Suzanne, thanks for all your hardwork and insights. Just wondering if having a current PD of Sept 2018 means that there is atleast one Indian applicant to have I 526 approved from Sept 2018 or are these dates as random as everything else. Thanks, Shruti

    • Consider this explanation in the October 2019 visa bulletin:
      1. Procedures for determining dates. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; USCIS reports applicants for adjustment of status. Allocations in the charts below were made, to the extent possible, in chronological order of reported priority dates, for demand received by September 9th. If not all demand could be satisfied, the category or foreign state in which demand was excessive was deemed oversubscribed. The final action date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who could not be reached within the numerical limits.

  3. Shashin says:

    Hello Suzanne, thanks for giving such a deep insight regarding EB-5 Processing Time.
    Mine I-526 filled in month of November 2017. And As per February bulletin 2020, final action date is September 1,2018.
    How much time do they take to clear the file of November 2017?

    • Sam says:

      Your I-526 has to be approved first to proceed to next step irrespective of Visa Bulletin dates.

    • The short answer is that it will take a long time to clear anything, until IPO starts to process more than 546 I-526 per quarter. Based on data for pending and processed petitions since 2017, there would be between 5,000 and 5,700 I-526 currently remaining from before November 2017, if adjudications had gone in FIFO order.

  4. VJ says:

    Hi Suzanne my I 526 filed in September 17, any realistic prediction when it can be adjudicated ?
    thanks

    • I can calculate that there would be about 5,000 I-526 currently remaining with priority dates earlier than yours, if adjudications since 2017 have been in date order. But that’s a questionable “if.” And timing from here will depend on whether USCIS picks up the pace of adjudications, and prioritizes the oldest petitions. The wait would not be long if USCIS could process 4,000 I-526 per quarter like last year, but very long if the recent 560 I-526 per quarter rate continues.

  5. vstat84 says:

    Suzanne,

    Can you share your insights regarding the projected movement of final action dates for EB5-India relative to EB1-India (knowing full well that predictions are difficult especially in the absence of publicly available USCIS statistics). Your analysis would be very helpful to those stuck in the EB1-India backlog who are trying to decide if EB5 is a better option. I look forward to a post from you dedicated to this topic.

    Thank you.

    • Let me ask for your input on an important unknown variable. From your observation, can you guess how many Indians may have chosen EB-5 and filed I-526 petitions in October and November 2019?

      • vstat84 says:

        Anecdotally, I only know of one friend who applied for EB5 before the recent increase in investment threshold. Relative to the number of people I know who are in the EB1/EB2 backlog (and considering the fact that several could, in theory, afford to invest in EB5), very few appear to have taken the plunge. I suspect the 900k threshold will dissuade most going forward. Would you venture to guesstimate when the EB1-India final action date would return to Feb 2017 – not asking for a friend 🙂 ?

        • I haven’t attempted analysis on the EB-1 backlog. There are probably currently 6 to 9 years of future EB-5 visa applicants from India in the system, assuming that the I-526 filing surge ahead of November wasn’t very great. The low end estimate assumes high denial/attrition rates and small families. Of this backlog, only about one year of applicants has reached the visa stage. Visa bulletin movement will depend on future order of I-526 approvals.

  6. DK says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    My PD is November 19,2019, applied just before new rules went into effect. Am I being too optimistic to expect I-526 adjudication and getting conditional GC in 5-6 yrs from Indian quota ?

    • Charles Oppenheim estimated a 6.7 year wait for Indians as of October 1, 2019. He had previously estimated 8.4 years as of April 1, 2019. (Worldwide I-526 receipts exceeded adjudications between April and October, so it’s unlikely that the number of pending I-526 from India decreased by 20% during that period. More likely that Oppenheim made a 20%+ change to his assumption about number of visa applications likely to result from pending I-526.) A 5-6 year wait for someone with a November 2019 PD could be possible if the average visa applications-to-filed-I-526 ratio is actually even lower than Oppenheim predicts. That could happen if the line includes many single people and/or many I-526 that will be denied.

  7. KumarD says:

    Suzanne, Thanks for the post.
    My PD is Dec 01,2017, 526 approved in 3 months, applied for 485 in the month of April 2018. Still waiting for conditional GC it has been almost 2 years. Yes from India.

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  9. Devika K. says:

    Hi Suzanne! My I-526 was filed on July 31, 2018. I’m trying to make sense of all the timelines but without much success and clarity. Could you please tell me a time frame for an approval given current India processing numbers? Thanks.

  10. Vijay says:

    Suzanne,

    April 2018 PD here. Applied for 485 in April 2019 received combo card in May 2019. Since PD is current as of now when should I expect to receive conditional GC. Is the 12 month avg processing time from the date PD becomes current .

    Should I be concerned Pd might retrogress before 485 approval.

    Thank you

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