I-526 Processing Status

Under the threat of a potential law change that would re-organize the EB-5 visa wait line, people who currently face no visa wait are especially eager to know when they can receive I-526 approval and get visa applications filed. My timing consultation analysis calculates where IPO should be with I-526 processing for given dates on average, considering the composition and movement of the entire queue, official and unofficial guidelines for I-526 processing order, and anecdotal evidence. But a couple other sources also indicate which petitions are getting touched right now: the USCIS Case Processing Times page and the USCIS Check Case Status tool.

The USCIS Case Processing Times Report for Form I-526 currently gives an “estimated time range” starting at 27.5 months for countries with visas available. According to the claimed methodology, that report means that 50% of I-526 decisions in October 2020 were on cases less than 27.5 months old – i.e. filed more recently than June 2018.

The USCIS Case Status Online tool gives more current and specific information. A petitioner can enter his I-526 receipt number on this page to get a current status report for his individual case. Nothing practically prevents the petitioner or his app from also entering groups of receipt numbers, to see what’s happening with other petitions filed at around the same time. I don’t use this method myself but think it’s fair game for investors to do so, and several of my blog readers have shared the results of their investigations.  The Case Status check method indicates that a large percentage of I-526 filed up through August 2018 have been assigned for adjudication and already seen action (at least an RFE), and that September 2018 I-526 are now being worked on. For example, see this analysis published by blog commenter Web. And thank you to others who have also shared their work with me.

With this in mind, if you filed I-526 before August 2018 and have heard nothing yet, you might talk to your lawyer about starting to pursue the available inquiry channels to make sure that your I-526 did not fall through the cracks. (The huge deviation in processing times shows that IPO in fact has all kinds of reasons for processing I-526 out of date order, but at least you know that you are out of order and can inquire accordingly.) If you filed I-526 in September 2018 or soon after, then you can look at I-526 filing trends to guess how much longer you may have to wait, considering the most recently reported processing speed (average 300 decisions per month) and that China I-526 from 2018 are not currently being assigned. (If much later, then one also needs to factor in the assumption that processing speed will probably change in the future.) Here’s a clip of data that I’ve collected from a variety of sources on distribution of I-526 receipts in late 2018.

Filing MonthI-526 receipts from ChinaI-526 receipts from all Other CountriesTotal I-526 receipts
July 201877173250
August 2018107281388
September 20181658531018
October 2018120538658
November 201858239297
December 201882706788

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.

100 Responses to I-526 Processing Status

  1. Rushil Ramachandran says:

    Thank you Suzanne. Awesome as always !!!. I am one of the September 2018 applicants (INDIA). I have been in the U.S for the last 15 years and have probably held every type of visa. Finally hoping to get some certainty soon with the EB5.
    Also, I can recommend your consultation service enough. the details are outstanding. In also loved the fact that you kept getting back to us with updates long after the initial consultation.

  2. Fred Nate says:

    Hey Suzanne, thank you so much again for the detailed analysis!

    My question is the potential impact of this bill on i-829. I think a lot of analysis focuses on it’s impact on i-526 but would you have any insight into how it would impact 829? I’m asking as someone who managed to file it late 2019.

    • No impact at all on I-829. You already have the green card, and already used a visa number. The I-829 simply removes conditions on that green card, and does not involve applying for anything new or getting in under any new visa quota.

    • Ram Indian says:

      even if the bill dosnt become law you will face a long wait time as from july 2019 there tons of indian petitions because the increase i am in the same month of 2019

  3. Web says:

    Thanks Suzanne. Happy to add that the last two days have seen good processing volume with atleast 30 applications processed for 3Q’18 PD and with 16 of them from 17-20th September 2018 PD.

  4. Mia says:

    Thanks, Suzanne! I’m confused as to where they’re getting the 14.1 months average historical processing time for FY2020 from, as that would imply some are being reviewed from 2019. Any idea what’s going on there?

    • See note 4 under the table on this page, which states that “These processing times, which combine data from all USCIS offices, are based on the length of time that an office’s application/petition receipts have been awaiting adjudication (pending).” In other words, it’s not actually reporting processing times, but average age of the inventory. Very different things. The average age of the I-526 inventory fell with the influx of new receipts ahead of the regulations deadline. https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/historic-pt

  5. Jerry says:

    Hi Suzanne, excellent work as always. One small typo: you said S. 386 when you most definitely meant S. 386.

    Also, curious how the AoS language in the bill would benefit EB-5 applicants? After reading the bill, I think that language is very narrowly applied to EB1/2/3 only. But I am happy to be proven wrong.

  6. Bappi says:

    Hello Suzanne; lots of thanks for your valuable posts. My PD is Sep 2018 and I got REF on 25th Nov 20 but till now my Attorny not yet get any letter from USCIS. What should we do now?

  7. Cecilia says:

    Suzanne ,
    Thanks again for all that you do!
    If this FHSA bill passes I expect a lot of WOM . When can one file ? Is 18 months reasonable?

    • Unfortunately, needing a decision ASAP isn’t a basis for WOM — the mandamus has to be able to argue unreasonable delay, and that one isn’t just trying to get ahead in line. You might discuss options with the lawyer, and when an unreasonable delay argument could be feasible. Hopefully for your situation, the bill will not pass now.

  8. Isha Mandrekar says:

    Hi Suzanne, Thanks for all your analysis. I am Indian with Nov 2019 I526 application. Would my application get impacted by this new bill?

  9. AF says:

    Hi Suzanne
    I am an applicant from India with PD of May 2018, I got RFE which is asking me to verify my path of funds and also has several questions about project. Feels like the whole application needs to be sent again. I am really surprised that they have questions about investor funds as this information was submitted very clearly. Do you have any suggestions about how to resend this information… I mean should it be sent differently or send all the documents again the same way as we did before?

  10. ANN says:

    Hi Suzanne, Thanks for all your detailed analysis. I am Indian with Feb 2019 I526 application. Would my application get impacted by this new bill?

  11. Alex Na says:

    Hi Zusanne

    My PD is april 29, 2019 from Thailand. Would it be possible to get processed in the next 6 month or impacted by the new bill for long wait?

    Thank you so much
    Alex

    • Your filing date will likely not be processed in the next six months, unless IPO significantly improves productivity. The Fairness Act would mean a very long wait if it affects you, but depends on what if any language actually gets passed regarding effective date and savings provisions.

  12. CG says:

    Hi Suzanne, as you would probably remember, my PD was 09/07/2018 (Indian born applicant) and my I-526 got approved on 11/23/2020. USCIS is in the process of informing NVC about my case. Is my case likely to be affected from a EB-5 visa issuance timing standpoint if this Bill were to convert into a law?

    • meiraj02 says:

      Hai CG hope you are doing well, Congratulation of your I526 Approval, are you residence of US, or staying abroad? can you message me to meiraj02@gmail.com to discuss about my case, according to your experience.

  13. Roberto Virga says:

    Sorry for going slight off-topic, but there’s a question that has been bothering me for quite some time. If Congress passes a law that raises the federal minimum wage to $15/h (it’s among the items of the Democratic agenda), aren’t most of the people in the EB-5 program screwed anyway?
    By my calculations, the amount of money needed to keep 10 american workers fully employed for 2 years would become at least:
    10 workers * $15/hour * 35 hours/week * 52 weeks/year * 2 years = $546,000
    which is more than the $500,000 that most people currently enrolled in the program invested. Therefore, their I-829 would be automatically rejected, and they would be kicked out of the country after 2 years. Or am I missing something?

  14. Van Thanh Nguyen says:

    Dear Suzanne,
    Your analyzed information is totally correct. I’m Vietnamese and filled I526 in Sep 2018, I just got reply from USCIS with an RFE (related to path of fund/POF).
    Could you please advise me something regarding to this RFE? This is easy one to explain or not?
    If I pass the RFE, so when my case will be ready for visa interview?
    Many thanks

    • Regarding RFE response, there have been many POF RFEs for Vietnamese investors recently, and your lawyer willo have experience dealing with them (or can consult with other lawyers who have this experience). I don’t work with source of funds myself, but did put a post about this recently https://blog.lucidtext.com/2020/10/19/aao-decisions-on-source-and-path-of-funds-appeals/. The visa interview question will depend on how soon consulates get back up to speed following COVID-19 restrictions.

      • Nguyen says:

        Many thanks Suzanne. I really appreciate!
        Asumming 3 months later, I will pass the RFE and get I-526 approval. Based on 1600 cases of Vietnamese await for visa interview at NVC at Nov 2020 and total visa availabe for Vietnam in Y2021 is about 1300 as estimated, so my visa may be ready in early Y 2022, right?
        Please kindly advise if possible!
        Thanks so much again!

        • There are two factors to consider: (1) how many visas are available to Vietnam in FY2020 and FY2021, and (2) how many visas are actually possible to issue to Vietnamese in FY2020 and FY2021 considering on-going consulate closures and general capacity questions. In his presentation to IIUSA in November 2020, Charles Oppenheim seemed to be estimating that it might be practically possible to issue up to 600 visas to Vietnamese this year and maybe up to 900 next year.

          • Van Thanh Nguyen says:

            Thanks so much, Suzanne! It should be a good signal for Vietnamese Hopefully, Vaccine for Covid 19 has been started applying in the USA, so that USCIS will be working more productivity.

  15. Vijita Kamath says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    I am an Indian citizen with I-526 PD of 12/2018 and filed the petition to be a COS. Is there a chance the bill might affect my application?

  16. WD says:

    Dear Suzanne,

    Thank you for such a great post. My PD is in may 2018, and I received an RFE. Assuming that I will send back my RFE respond sometime in Jan 2021, how long would it take for the USCIS to approve my EB-5? Given the current timeline, would my conditional green card application be affected by the potentially new law?

    Thank you

    • The normal time between RFE response and decision seems to be less than two months. The new law could affect you depending on what’s in the final version in terms of effective date and protections.

      • WD says:

        I sincerely hope the act won’t be passed. I am from one of the backlog country for the green card. I honestly cannot wait another 5 years. I maybe wrong, but I did not see the Act mentioning about EB5, just mostly EB1 EB3. Still, would this affect on EB5 program, and how?

  17. Daniel says:

    I’ve received the 526 approval, but delayed visa processing due to the situation with Covid and job prospects in the US.
    Are applicants safe from this bill once the i526 has been approved or is NVC processing which gets you in line so to speak?

    • At least one past version of the bill included a savings provision that would protect people with petitions approved on the effective date, but it’s not automatic. I wait with bated breath to see what language if any gets put into passed legislation.

  18. AW says:

    Hello Suzanne,

    My priority date is September 11, 2018. I have received the I-526 approval on December 4, 2020. My birth country is Hong Kong.

    Thank you for all of your hard work and analysis from the day 1.

  19. AA says:

    Hi Suzanne
    If an RFE for I 526 requests for evidence which has nothing to do with your case ( asking for details about loan/ gift when no loan/gift was taken at all) would that mean that the attorney might not have put things together accurately or adjucator is sending generic random questions? If there are concerns about attorneys handling of the case, can he/ she be changed at this stage?

  20. AStupidOct2018Investor says:

    Has anyone received approvals after December 12th, 2020. Asking for I-526 filed in Sept or Oct 2018.

    Also, has anyone who is staying in the US and who filed I-485 adjustment of status received approvals in 3-5 months?

  21. Nitin Patel says:

    If any Indian who is already in US & petition approved in that case, will his visa number be deducted from the country cap of 700 visa or not because he is already in US having another visa?

  22. Hugo says:

    Hi Suzanne. Is the USCIS Case Check tool (individual report for each case) 100% accurate? I am asking because I see folks posting updates without attorneys receiving letters. I check my case almost every day but obviously do not speak with my attorney every day, so am just wondering if there is a situation where my case would be processed + a letter is sent to my attorney + the case check is not updated. Sep 18 priority date (week 1) getting concerned. Thank you!

  23. Claire says:

    We are South African and submitted our I-526 on 22 July 2019. Any idea of when our case status will change from Application received?

  24. Madhu says:

    My priority date is October 15th, 2018. Any idea which date I-526 petitions are getting processed now?

  25. Mehul says:

    PD: 01 Oct 2018; Indian nationality; still waiting to hear back from USCIS 😦

  26. abc123 says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    I will be filing my I-765 along with I-485. Can I continue work on I-765 receipt while my I-485 is being processed.

  27. Sadullah says:

    Hi Suzanne

    My filing date August 2019, Any idea which date I-526 petitions are getting processed now

  28. Sadullah says:

    Hi Suzanne

    My filing date August 19, 2019, from Bangladesh, Any idea which date I-526 petitions are getting processed now.

    • The USCIS Processing Time Page gives 31 months as the low end of the estimated time range for non-China I-526. That means that 50% of recent I-526 adjudications were of I-526 filed more recently than 31 months ago — i.e. more recently than November 2018. This matches what I’m hearing anecdotally — still mostly November/December 2018 decisions. Note that 1,808 I-526 were filed October-December 2018, so it is naturally taking a long time to work through them. From January to June 2019, 1,195 I-526 were filed, so those months should move more swiftly.

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