FY2020 Q3 Processing Data

USCIS has finally published form processing data for FY2020 Q3 (April to June 2020) on the USCIS Immigration and Citizenship Data Page. As with last quarter, EB-5 form data is now only presented in the All Forms report, to make it maximally difficult to find and read. Here is the summary, followed by charts to put the data in context of historical trends.

EB-5 Petition Processing Data for FY2020 Q3 (April to June 2020)

FormReceiptsApprovalsDenialsPending
I-5264057634615,955
I-8297397252310,332

Notes on the charts:

  1. The I-526 trend chart suggests a possible method in IPO’s madness. Maybe their goal is to reduce approvals to equal denials. As discussed in the previous post, the volume of I-526 adjudications has been extremely low overall under Sarah Kendall’s watch. But the data shows that IPO has been denying as many I-526 as ever – it’s just approvals that have fallen. And perhaps not coincidentally, approvals track denials over the last five quarters.
  2. I-526 receipts remained extremely low into Q3. And who is surprised? When USCIS proposed raising the EB-5 investment amount, they projected that the major price increase would result in raising more money. I tried to explain the Law of Demand in my comments, and was ignored. And now we see: doubling the minimum EB-5 investment amount resulted in raising 45 times less investment per quarter in FY2020 than the average for 2013 to 2019. Policy-makers, is this what you want? Recent IPO behavior, the pandemic, and visa oversubscription also share blame for decimated demand. If the United States actually wants billions of dollars in EB-5 investment, not to mention the 10+ new jobs required to come with each investment, EB-5 program policy reforms are needed.
  3. I-829 receipts and adjudication volume do not show particular upward or downward trends.  The I-829 approval rate remains high. Volume of adjudications makes clear that IPO has reallocated resources away from I-526 to I-829.
  4. If IPO continued to process pending petitions at the rate evidenced in Q3, then they will take 4.3 years just to process all currently-pending I-526 and 3.5 years to process currently-pending I-829. Those rates would be over 7 times slower than Congress intends. I trust productivity will be improved, and future processing times will not actually be that long.
  5. If IPO continues to approve I-526 at the rate shown in FY2020 Q1-Q3, it will only approve about 2,200 I-526 per year – far below the level needed to use the typical 10,000 annual EB-5 visa quota. This is what building The Wall through legal immigration looks like, and needs to change.
  6. In 2020, form receipts at IPO were five times below the average since 2016. That means five times less fee revenue. And USCIS wonders why it has budget problems. (One of the many questions Sarah Kendall did not answer last week was my question about how IPO would maintain integrity in adjudications, in light of reduced fee revenue due to reduced volume of receipts.)
  7. The Q3 report clarifies that the I-924 row combines regional center terminations and reaffirmations with I-924 application filings. Since such a combination is meaningless, I am no longer reporting I-924 data points.

For all the in-process investors reading this and thinking “what does this mean for me,” here’s how to think about the question. Take the number of pending forms just reported in your category, divide that by the number of approvals plus denials just reported for your form type, and the result is the number of quarters it would take to process every petition in the inventory, assuming first-in-first-out order and that future processing volume doesn’t increase or decrease. This number probably gives a ballpark estimate for the very longest your petition could take, assuming that processing is more likely to, in fact, get better than worse from here, that you’re not at the very end of the line, and that exceptions to FIFO order will benefit rather than delay your petition. (If you’re from China or a very recent investor from India and Vietnam, the picture gets more complicated for I-526.) In my I-526 timing consultation, I try to drill down further to quantify exactly where you are in the queue and how queue movement will affect you, considering the impact of filing surges, the distribution of I-526 filings by country, the visa availability approach impact, political factors, and what I see anecdotally vs what’s reported about I-526 processing. But it’s complicated by limited data and the number of exceptions to FIFO. May USCIS one day get staff and leadership who believe in order and transparency, so that simple questions about process timing can get the simple answers they deserve.

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.

80 Responses to FY2020 Q3 Processing Data

  1. james says:

    Something is really wrong with EB5 Adjudication. 1670 adjudications in 3 months at the rate of 28 application adjudications per day. What is the 250+ EB5 office really doing ? they must be sleeping and getting fat

  2. KG says:

    How to single-handedly kill legal immigration, one bureaucratic brick at a time. Who in their right mind would put down $1m at risk, for an undetermined time and undetermined outcome (60% denial!)?.
    I can just see writs to the rescue to at least get a result within a reasonable time.

  3. Lee says:

    As I keep saying, the biggest obstacle to EB-5 program is USCIS. I don’t really think they care about the amount of EB-5 investments being made as long as they can keep working and justify their existence. I don’t really expect anything from USCIS and as such, I no longer complain. Again, I am all for a complete elimination of EB-5 program mainly because USCIS is unable to adjudicate cases in a manner that EB-5 investors deserve. nyo

  4. vekbat says:

    Hey Suzanne,

    Can you do a write up on how the EB5 program may shape up under Biden? I’m guessing if they get control of the senate USCIS will have to tow the democratic line.

    Thanks!

    • Thomas J. Rotert says:

      I would propose re-posting your request for Suzanne to sit down, think about, and carefully draft her “EB-5 Under Biden” forecast, and this time attach your donation receipt along with your suggestion. BTW – I re-upped this month on my Donate-to-Suzanne schedule. Everyone else should do so as well. This is an invaluable service she performs (has performed for years) for the industry, always in a detailed, precise and thoughtful manner.

      • Thank you Thomas! I struggle to make my work pay. Unfortunately I don’t have much to say yet about EB-5 under Biden, though. Last week’s IIUSA webinar was not encouraging, and I”m not at the center of advocacy. But perhaps we can do something to help create the change we want to see. I have a pipeline of awareness-raising posts I want to write, including another one on the country cap issue which is likely to be on the table under Biden/Harris.

  5. Chuck says:

    As usual, you bring the the best analysis of the EB-5 industry.
    I would only add that US dollar’s appreciation against many emerging markets currencies has been the “coup de grace” impacting I-526 demand reduction in the last two quarters.
    Although such factor is hopefully temporary, others are truly concerning: 1) Legal certainty, transparency, fairness and predictability are prerequisites for any investment program. Long processing times with no communication touchpoints is truly a blind flying… it is not for the faint of heart; 2) The EB-5 program has lost its positioning. While in the past the required investment amount was an achievable dream for a middle class investor who was willing to place half a million dollars at risk to ensure a safer and brighter future for their family, the program is now suit to attract the upper class. The issue is that most upper class investors have no interest in migrating to the US. They already enjoy a good life in their countries including having the possibility to send their children to attend college here under a F-1 visa. If only legislators and USCIS could act on feedback from credible people in the industry like yourself and investors who have been through this journey.

    • Indian Investor says:

      Hello all its really very hard for middle class people like me, i have invested like many of you all with no certainity i dont expect any change as there is a complex political system in usa i am waiting from 3 years i have stopped to even see the blogs and reports i really feel we should educate folks from our respectve countries to not fall in this mess there are better oppourtinities in our respective countries and many european options newzealand to name a few its my personal opinion i am sorry if it hurt sombodys thoughts

      • AStupidOct2018Investor says:

        Hello “Indian Investor”. I am an Indian investor located in the US (call me AStupidOct2018Investor, it’s fine). At what stage are you? Is your I-526 approved yet?

  6. Ray Chuck says:

    “If you’re from China or a very recent investor from India and Vietnam, the picture gets more complicated for I-526”
    I am potential investor from India and this statement makes me concern about filing for EB-5. Do you expect the dates for India to retrogress this fiscal year(till october 2021). If so, which month in your opinion will the retrogression start to show on visa bulletin

    • Charles Oppenheim of Department of State is speaking about EB-5 in an IIUSA panel this Thursday, and I’ll report on his estimates. I guess that he won’t foresee India retrogression in this fiscal year. But if you are just investing this year, what happens this year may not be significant for you one way or another.

    • Indian Investor says:

      My experience when i invested in 2018 end it was current Just take this into consideration lots of investors from 2018 and some 2017 indian are pending and from july 2019 for 90 days there are tons of proposals i feel uscis is deliberately not processing i526 and when there are no sanctioned petitions visa bulletin will become cuttent what will you do if its current when they take 4 years to process your i526 i have burnt my fingers by investing dont invest if you still want to go ahead keep in mind 6 to 7 years the time you get your visa or conditional green card

  7. Kim says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    Would you have any estimates of how long it’s taking on average these days for the USCIS to send an approved I-526 petition to the NVC? Thank you so much overall for your excellent work and analysis!

    (If anyone reading this is interested, my I-526 with priority date September 2018 was approved a few weeks ago.)

    • It has been taking many months, but hopefully will be quicker now that IPO promised they are “actively working” to solve the delay problem in sending approvals to NVC. Check back to let us know your experience. And thanks for sharing the good news about your approval.

    • CG says:

      @Kim : Congrats on the I-526 approval! What’s your country of birth? I am an Indian applicant. My priority date is Sep 07, 2018, but I haven’t got an approval yet.. hope mine gets approved soon. But I feel it will get approved only once the consulates open in India and we progress into the “visa available” category

      • USCIS looks at the Visa Bulletin Chart B, not at whether or not consulates are open, in determining visa availability. So visa availability is not currently an issue in assigning your I-526.

        • CG says:

          Thanks for the clarification, Suzanne! Waiting for the I-526 approval with bated breath — it appears that our wait should soon be coming to an end. I know the project we invested in is not a problem since it had exemplar status and there have been 20+ I-526 approvals long back for the first few investors, and there are only 90 odd investors. And many approvals seem to be happening for PDs close to ours. And especially now since you say that visa availability should not be an issue for us..

          • Anu says:

            Good luck on it.

            FYI, there are around 1000 i526 applications in spetember 2018 and only 93 approvals and 37 RFEs so far. With current uscis processing speeds they might take atleast 4 more months to clear that month given that Indian applications are not paused for whatever reason

          • AStupidOct2018Investor says:

            Hello CG. I am an Indian investor located in the US (call me AStupidOct2018Investor, it’s fine). Is your project in New York?

          • AStupidOct2018Investor says:

            I somehow can’t respond to Anu’s comment.
            Hello Anu. I am an Indian investor located in the US (call me AStupidOct2018Investor, it’s fine). Where did you get the data from (there are around 1000 i526 applications in September 2018 and only 93 approvals and 37 RFEs so far)?

          • CG says:

            @AStupidOct2018Investor : Nope, my project is in Washington, DC. It was through a regional center

          • Anu says:

            @AStupidOct2018Investor

            I wrote a small program out of my frustration(oct 2018 PD) to check on the uscis case status activity for eb5

          • eb5investor2018 says:

            Thank you CG and Any for your responses.

            @Anu: that is really great that you wrote a program. Do you remember the last date from Sept 2018 which was approved?
            My regional center updated me that they are getting approvals for the end of Sept.

          • powerofdreams says:

            These are exciting times. My PD is on Sept 27th and can’t wait to hear about my case. I haven’t heard anyone from my regional center approved on my project and so I think it may take longer.

  8. the1ulikelivecom says:

    Question:
    pending cases in FY2020 Q2 was 16,633
    in FY2020 Q3:
    40 new cases come, then it will 16,673
    Approvals+Denials=576+346=992
    The remaining pending cases should be 16,673 – 992 = 15,751
    why the remaining shows 15,955 pending cases?

  9. Junaid Juneja says:

    Hi Suzzane,

    I received a response from USCIS for my expedite request –
    “…mmigrant Petition by Alien Investor (Form I-526), WAC**********, has been assigned to an officer and it appears a visa is currently available for their petition when their chargeability area..”.

    Does this mean anything for the expected time for the adjudication of my petition?

    Thanks for your help!

  10. Amy says:

    I recently heard USCIS is processing i485s when i526 is approved but also need BOTH i526 receipt and i485 receipt dates to be current. Is that the case? If yes then obviously this is not a good sign as now we have to wait for our i485 receipt date to be current too.

  11. FCL says:

    Thanks for the information about the number of I526 completed so far with PD sept 2018 ! (I also have a PD 09/18). Would you mind sharing how you got this information ? thank U

  12. Jorge says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    First of all, thank you for the effort you put into these reports.

    I have a receipt date of December 2018 for my I-526 petition. As a Mexican national, is this still under “normal” waiting times? Mexico doesn’t have visa availability issues, and under FIFO criteria I would expect a decision to come soon. Is this reasonable or should I temper expectations?

    Regards

    • Anu says:

      1) uscis is not following FIFO by books but they have a different definition for it which many of us are still trying to crack into
      2) I can confidently say they are processing 2018 August, September, applications in past few weeks
      3) Have seen 4 or 5 approvals, rfes from October 2018 and November 2018 but they are still heavily processing august, sept 2018 i526s
      4) If they have paused processing on Vietnamese, Indian applications in addition to Chinese then there is high possibility that they might quickly move on to oct, nov, dec 2018 applications best by February 2021
      5) Note that they have heavy i526 volume in the month of September 2018 nearly 1000

      Good luck on ur wait

      • CG says:

        @Anu – you really seem to have spent a lot of time on painstakingly figuring this out – thanks so much! Any idea which week of Sep 2018 are they processing? Very early, or mid / end Sep? Like I said earlier, I am an Indian investor in Mumbai and my PD is Sep 07, 2018. Wonder if that has some advantage given the 1000 odd applications through the full month? Thanks so much!

        • Web says:

          They are currently processing first and second week of September. For some reason September 7th and 11th applications very few have been processed and other days have seen much more. Assuming they have not stopped processing Indian applications you should hear in the next few weeks.

          • powerofdreams says:

            Thank you for the information. How are you able to say which week’s applications they’re processing and applications submitted on those specific dates are lagging? I think this question goes along the same direction as some of the other questions that people have asked.

          • AS says:

            Thanks @web for ur work and giving hope to people’s hard luck and hard earned money invested. Always @Suzanne is the best on EB5 Updates.

          • Yash Brahmbhatt says:

            Web,

            How do you anticipate PD dec7,2018 to be processed by? And when would be a realistic date to gain EAD.. not greencard but just the EAD .?

          • Web says:

            @Yash,
            There were 1800 applications between oct-dec’18 and there are well over 1000 applications pending prior to that quarter. Seeing that on an average around 50 applications during this period are being processed per week, it will probably be a while before they reach dec 2018. Hopefully with the new administration things might pick up pace. Optimistically maybe mid next year you might hear back.

          • Rena says:

            @web.
            the 1800 applications between Oct – Nov 18, do these include Chinese applications? are those still to be deducted, now with the Visa Availability approach?
            When do you think PD mid November 18 would be adjudicated?

        • Web says:

          Congrats CG on your case being approved. Atleast now we know they are still processing India applications!

          • CG says:

            I JUST CANT BELIEVE IT – YES, MY I-526 (PD 09/07/2018) GOT APPROVED YESTERDAY 11/23/2020, AND YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT, I GOT TO KNOW FIRST THANKS TO YOU, @WEB!!!!! I THEN WENT & CHECKED ON THE WEBSITE AND ITS TRUE!! AM SO THANKFUL TO @SUZANNE FIRST, YOU@WEB, AND @ANU, FOR KEEPING MY HOPES UP!! MY DAUGHTER HAS STARTED REMOTE LEARNING IN THE US FROM LAST FALL AND WILL GO NEXT FALL FOR IN-PERSON. MY SON IS APPLYING FOR FALL’22. WITH LUCK, WE WILL ALL BE RESIDENTS SOON, AND WILL FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE OUR AMERICAN DREAM HAPPEN!!!!!

          • Ravina says:

            Hi @Web

            Any idea when they will process Aug 28, 2018 (indian investor )?

          • Web says:

            @Ravina,

            They have already processed a lot of august applications. As of now they are processing more September applications than august. But they continue to process on an average 3-4 august applications daily. I see august 27-31st unfortunately have a large number of applications they skipped over and went into September. I also see them slowly processing towards those dates. My best guess is that you should hear back before the end of December based on applications in august pending and processing speed.

          • Rushil Ramachandran says:

            @Web. Any progress in the SEPT 2018 processing. my PD is Sept 25th 208. Is there a rough timeline of when I can expect some movement ?

        • Anu says:

          Wow, congratulations 👏 🙌
          Glad to know that they haven’t paused on indian applications as I am dreading about. Very happy for you. Congrats again 👏

  13. Yash Brahmbhatt says:

    Suzzane,

    Firstly, Where can I donate some funds for the excellent work that you’re doing?

    Secondly, while I do see some action on augst/sept 2018 526(s) why is it that indian investor may/june 526(s) have not even started to be reviewed yet? In other words, I’m trying to ask is do you think even though india is current, the 526(s) applications from indian citizens are still in march/april or are they also around aug/sept 2018 ??

  14. DK says:

    Never a dull moment in EB-5 world. Joe Biden just nominated Alejandro Mayorkas to lead DHS. During Obama presidency, Alejandro was head of EB-5 program and was accused of political favoritism. If he is confirmed, it will be good news for both investors and promoters.

  15. CG says:

    @suzanne, can you pls send me transfer instructions? i’d like to make a contribution to thank you for your fantastic work. So many EB-5 applicants benefit from you, and you’re doing such a noble cause…… respect….

  16. AD says:

    Question-: for Regional center and Non regional center/TEA, time duration for I526 approval varies? Is it take more time for TEA applications to process.

    Coz my PD is September, 2018 and applications around my WAC# were already given results by uscis, where as mine is still under processing.

    • Among many possible exceptions to FIFO order, one is whether or not the underlying project has already or recently been approved in other petitions. If the project you invested in hasn’t been previously reviewed recently or at all, you might end up behind others being picked out as associated with reviewed projects. (This can tend to disadvantage direct EB-5 which are often novel projects.)

      • AD says:

        I own that business and property and applied under TEA as direct investment. I know it’s never been reviewed for EB 5 purpose before.
        So, how much extra delays should I expect?
        How much chances are for RFE?

        Thanks for reply Suzanne.

        • In principle, there shouldn’t be much more delay in assigning your case, but it’s hard to predict. Based on what I’ve seen recently, I’d say 99% likelihood of getting an RFE just to request evidence of the current status of the business, if nothing else. So have your business tax records, bank statements, payroll records etc ready.

  17. Web says:

    Hi All,

    I consolidated some of my findings on I526 processing in my blog below:

    https://eb5-blog.blogspot.com/2020/12/i-526-processing-analysis-this-blog.html

    Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

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