USCIS Adjusts Process for Managing EB-5 Visa Petition Inventory

USCIS has officially announced an I-526 priority change I saw coming. People from China, Vietnam, and India with pending I-526: you need to organize to inform IPO how you feel about this. I plan to write about an aspect I doubt IPO recognizes: how USCIS adjudication order can create and skew EB-5 visa availability, with particular reference to the examples of China and India. I also have to go back and revise the new I-526 timing estimate service that I’d been almost ready to post.

From: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services <>
Sent: January 29, 2020 8:33 AM
Subject: USCIS Adjusts Process for Managing EB-5 Visa Petition Inventory

Change Addresses Fairness Issues in Visa Allocation

WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced a process change for Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, from a first-in, first-out basis to a visa availability approach.

This new operational approach aligns with other visa-availability agency adjudications processes, is more consistent with congressional intent for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, and increases fairness in the administration of the program.

“Changing our approach from a first-in, first-out adjudication process to one that prioritizes petitions connected to individuals from countries where visas are currently available better aligns the EB-5 program with congressional intent and makes it more consistent with other USCIS operations,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans. “This new approach increases fairness, allowing qualified EB-5 petitioners from traditionally underrepresented countries to have their petitions approved in a more timely fashion to receive consideration for a visa.”

This operational change is consistent with the agency’s processing of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, in cap-subject categories. The new visa availability approach simply gives priority to petitions where visas are immediately available, or soon available, and will not create legally binding rights or change substantive requirements. Applicants from countries where visas are immediately available will now be better able to use their annual per-country allocation of EB-5 visas. The new visa availability approach will apply to petitions pending as of the effective date of the change. USCIS will implement the visa availability approach on March 31, 2020.

USCIS will hold a public engagement on March 13, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to noon Eastern, to provide information and answer questions from the public about these operational changes to the management of Form I-526 petition inventory.

About Suzanne (
Suzanne Lazicki is a business plan writer, EB-5 expert, and founder of Lucid Professional Writing. Contact me at (626) 660-4030.

28 Responses to USCIS Adjusts Process for Managing EB-5 Visa Petition Inventory

  1. Silent Man says:

    What does this mean? Can you explain in in the simplest of terms please?

  2. Evelyn says:

    This is really serious to Chinese or Indian applicants. They might never receive the approval and their funds would be held for a very long period. This change will eventually stop EB5 investors from those two countries.

  3. Harry says:

    This is cascading loop policy .. More the pending petition, more is wait time and more wait time, more pending petition..!! Instead they should put resources to try to clear the backlog or start a premium processing for good amount !!

  4. Adel Elmankabady says:

    I hope this will speed the approvals.

  5. Hello says:

    What will happen to the existing backlog? If we have known earlier about this process we never might have invested. Can change the I526 processing policy in the middle?

  6. kishore says:

    Makes sense. Indians and Chinese clog every category of immigrant applicants.

    • Harry says:

      Your comment is absurd ..!! This process was designed for first come first serve only..!! After this we anyway have country quota..!! Need of hour is to speed up the backlog not put the old filed in back burner..!!

      • Thengai says:

        Agree with Harry. I would go one step further to say this is approach should be considered borderline illegal since this goes against the main reason for investment (FIFO) and the strain this puts on all investors from backlogged countries. They should bring in a premium processing service if they pursue something like this so that there’s SOME alternative even if expensive for all investors to pursue.

      • kishore says:

        its the truth. dont be bitter about it.

    • France says:

      I agree with Kishore. It was about time to make things more fair for underrepresented countries! Chinese have so many relatives, they can easily file an i 130 (application for relative) while less represented countries can’t or obviously have less chance. I feel unconfortable every time ask where I am from and after I answer they go all surprised: Wow! I have never met anyone from that country! People that come from under represented countries have it much harder obviously!

  7. Michael says:

    I’m assuming this will upend the current EB-5 Timing Estimates once it goes into effect.

    Any sense how much it could speed up processing times for applicants from countries with visas available?

  8. Cecilia says:

    Susan Hi! Does this mean the wait for Brazil will be shorter ? Any predictions? TIA

  9. Brian says:

    Hi Susan,
    Although initially feel ridiculous for this change, I still need to ask about the details on the new rule: how does it really work? Does it mean that whenever visa is available for a certain country then USCIS would start to process this country’s I526? Will it affect previous I526 petitions as well as future petitions?

    • The press release specifies that it will effect all currently-pending petitions as well as future ones. The answer to this important question is not clear: Does it mean that whenever visa is available for a certain country then USCIS would start to process this country’s I526?

  10. Steve says:

    Thank god…that’s great news for everyone that’s not in China or India. It’s not much help for them to process their I-526’s faster at this point anyways.

  11. tpk129 says:

    I’m probably missing something, but is this really a big deal?

    If the USCIS moves an application from say England (visa now) to the front of the que for processing, and those from China, India, and Vietnam, are temporarily set aside (because they won’t get a visa for say 10 years), what harm has been done? As long as those applications from China, India, and Vietnam are promptly processed when visas become available, what’s the beef?

    Am I understanding the matter correctly, or have a failed to comprehend again?


      • tpk129 says:

        OK…I read it, but I don’t find it compelling enough to commit harakiri!

        Isn’t the issue going to disappear with the drop off in new applications to zero? They will have more than enough time to process the back log.

        • That’s just the point — the issue would be a non-issue if IPO kept up volumes to dispose of the backlog; the fact that IPO is making priority an issue suggests that they’re planning for the backlog to remain a factor — which it will if they reduce adjudication volume

          • tpk129 says:

            Ok…our government often fails with its missions and we have to watch them closely. It appears that additional info from the USCIS is necessary, but my guess is that they will continue processing at the current level with those eligible currently for visas moved to the front of the line and the others won’t notice a difference.

            In my example, I’m not sure that is right the English family is made to wait to have their application processed until 1000’s of others are completed who will have to wait years to get their visas.

            Most likely future legislation will reshuffle the deck and deal a new hand to everyone making the point moot.

    • DK says:

      Therein lies the problem. Investors from India ,China ,Vietnam or from any retrogressed country will have to lock their $900k investment for x amount of years without knowing if their petition will be approved. This is nothing short of illegal and frankly it is total misuse of power. Ideal solution is to approve or disapprove the petition in a timely fashion and let the investors of retrogressed countries decide if they want to wait for their Visas or get out of the system if the wait is beyond their reasonable acceptable timeframe. I guess common sense is a very precious commodity at least with the new administration.

      • tpk129 says:

        Don’t worry about this…you have no control whatsoever and there are many more important things to be concerned about that you do control. It isn’t illegal or misuse of power.

        This will work itself to a relatively quick resolution as the level of new applications will drop to near zero so these government workers will have plenty of time to clear the backlog.

        If you are from India, you want to be in favor of this as you will be processed faster than many of the Chinese because their wait times are so much longer. Do you really want them to process these applications before yours? I don’t think so.

        I know it is frustrating and wish you much luck and success!

        • tpk129 says:

          Suzanne is a hero and will find out what the facts are, how it will work in the future, and what you should expect. Believe it or not, they aren’t purposely trying to make life difficult!

          • Actually tpk129, my facts so far don’t disprove the hypothesis that they are purposely trying to make life difficult. By they I mean USCIS, and people with an interest in having I-525 decisions (for people whose money is already in the bank) deferred as long as possible. I am worried about the issue because it could be significant and problematic — particularly if USCIS plans to match I-526 times to visa wait times, regardless of workload.

  12. KumarD says:

    Even after increasing the investment to 900K and allowing the applicant to file EAD, China, India, Vet and Phil applicants can’t get the benefit since I526 will not be approved. ?

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