FY2020 Q4 EB-5 Form Data, Mayorkas Nomination, Backlog for China 2015

FY2020 Q4 EB-5 Form Data

The USCIS Citizenship & Immigration Data page has posted data reports for FY2020 Q4 (July to September 2020).  Data for Forms I-526, I-829, and I-924 can be found in All USCIS Application and Petition Form Types (Fiscal Year 2020, 4th Quarter, Jul. 1-Sep 30, 2020) (PDF, 129.47 KB)

EB-5 Form Data for FY2020 Q4 (July to September 2020)

FormReceivedApprovedDeniedPending
I-5265390423615,063
I-8297407326210,304
I-924D*4545163

*Redacted in the report, but must be 129 since there were 124 I-924 pending at the end of Q3

The numbers are basically consistent with the previous quarter’s report, and with my expectations. I-526 and I-829 productivity improved again – by a hair. I-526 receipts remained low, as has been the case since the perfect storm of investment amount increase, lengthy wait times, economic upset, and COVID-19. Denial rates were lower than last quarter, though still higher than average. As usual, I’ve assembled charts below that put the numbers in historical context.

Mayorkas Nomination

The best news for future processing productivity and processing times is that Mr. Alejandro Mayorkas may be about to be approved as Secretary of Homeland Security. His nomination was advanced out of committee yesterday. When Mr. Mayorkas was director at USCIS (2009-2013), one of his goals was to build greater expertise, professionalism, and transparency into administration of the EB-5 program, and he pursued that goal with energy. Faced with problems in adjudication from lack of expertise in business and economics, he arranged for the EB-5 team to hire staff at a higher grade who would bring such expertise. Noting need for more coordination with other government agencies, including SEC and FBI for enforcement, he arranged to relocate the entire EB-5 team from California to Washington DC, creating the Investor Program Office. Noting the problem of undefined and untransparent requirements, he pushed publication of the first major EB-5 Policy Memo in 2013. Learning about the issue of inconsistent adjudications, he created a Discretion Review Board. EB-5 stakeholder engagements were quarterly under his watch, and he frequently participated personally to hear about stakeholder concerns. When members of Congress contacted USCIS about constituent problems with adjudication, Mr. Mayorkas paid attention to the inquiries and frequently got personally involved in addressing the inquiries, overruling and chiding adjudicators if necessary. All this wonderful and officious activity earned Mr. Mayorkas a large target on his back, and the Inspector General eventually wrote a report about three of the hundreds of cases in which he interfered – a report that we’ll never hear the end of, and which concluded that he was guilty of creating an appearance of favoritism. (I wrote about this in 2015.)  But for those of us who want the EB-5 program to be administered with expertise, professionalism, and transparency, having Mr. Mayorkas at the top at DHS is great news. Just listen to these beautiful words from his nomination hearing on January 19, when he was explaining his approach to leadership at USCIS: “USCIS is an agency that adjudicates cases. That’s what it does. When I had authority and responsibility to fix problems, I fixed problems in the cases the agency handled. It is my job to become involved, to learn the problems that an agency confronts, to become involved in those problems, and to fix them, and that’s what I did.”

Not that Mr. Mayorkas will have much time for EB-5 specifically (indeed, EB-5 administration slipped somewhat back when he moved on from USCIS to become deputy DHS secretary). But at least he should set a positive tone from the top. Those plummeting downward lines that we see in the EB-5 adjudications chart above will eventually trend sharply upward again, I hope. I almost wish that Sarah Kendall were still in charge at IPO, so that in fairness she could have a chance to perform under leadership that instructed her to value efficiency, transparency, and order. I heavily criticized her tenure for decimating productivity at IPO and destroying stakeholder trust, but I believe that she may have been simply and competently pursuing the objectives she was instructed to accomplish.

(As a side note, thank you to everyone who contributed to my Ombudsman survey form! I summarized and submitted your input to IIUSA to bring to the attention of the CIS Ombudsman. I hope that these concerns will make it to an open ear in USCIS leadership.)

China 2015 Backlog and Visa Bulletin Movement

And finally, a note for Chinese EB-5 investors who filed I-526 in 2015 and still waiting for visas. I have a lengthy post or article coming for you eventually, but keep modifying my analysis because it’s all so complicated! But note that this new report which has some significant information for you:  Form I-140, I-360, I-526 Approved EB Petitions Awaiting Visa Final Priority Dates (Fiscal Year 2020, Quarters 3 and 4) (PDF, 108.43 KB)

The report format is tough to interpret (I previously tried to explain it with pictures here.) In short, the report gives (A) a number of Chinese applicants who have approved I-526 but CANNOT move forward to final action based on the Visa Bulletin. That is not very helpful, because what we really want to know is (B) how many Chinese have approved I-526 plus CAN move forward to final action based on the Visa Bulletin.

I want to know (B), because that is a clue about when the visa bulletin will move again. If (B) is a small number, then the visa bulletin will need to move again soon to allow more people to join the group at the finish line, ready for final action. If (B) is a large number, greater than the number of visas available in the near-term, then final-stage applicants already exceed supply and the visa bulletin will not need to move again for awhile.

It occurred to me that the USCIS report is indirectly helpful, because (in the special case of China in 2020) we can infer (B) from the change over time in (A). Specifically, by the difference in numbers reported in the April 2020 and November 2020 reports.

The number of Chinese applicants who have approved I-526 but CANNOT move forward to final action (A) is increased over time by number of I-526 approvals, and decreased the number who CAN move to final action thanks to visa bulletin movement.  The number of Chinese who have approved I-526 plus CAN move forward to final action based on the Visa Bulletin (B) is increased over time by applicants released by the visa bulletin, and decreased over time by applicants receiving visas. However, for China, half of those variables are near zero. There should be few-to-no incoming I-526 approvals since April 2020, because the I-526 visa availability approach that took effect in April 2020 limits adjudication of I-526 without visas available. Thus I think we can discount additions to (A) for China in 2020, and only look at subtractions. The consulate in Guangzhou has issued 0 EB-5 visas since March 2020, so I think we can almost discount subtractions from (B) and mainly look at additions. (The only Chinese visa completions since March 2020 have been from adjustment of status, and that number is low. Chinese apparently received only 489 visas through AOS in FY2020.)

Therefore, I conclude that the difference between the reported numbers of approved I-526 awaiting visa availability in April 2020 and in November 2020 about equals the number of principal applicants who were released to the visa stage by Visa Bulletin movement since April 2020, and still waiting there, with their families, for visas. Referring to the above tables: 23,511-21,253=2,258 approved I-526 (i.e. principal visa applicants). 2,258 principal applicants means about 6,136 total visa applicants. (Considering that for Chinese visas issued in FY2018, principals accounted for 36.8% of total applicants.) So I think we can conclude that there are at least over 6,000 Chinese applicants queued up for final action based on the current Visa Bulletin Final Action Date of August 15, 2015. As of November 2020, Charles Oppenheim was estimating that it might be practically possible to issue about 3,000 visas to China in FY2021. I’m guessing that picture isn’t any better today considering that the consulate in China still has no timeline for resuming EB-5 visa interviews, and USCIS remains slow. If there are already 6,000+ people queued up for only around 3,000 spaces, then that’s already a big crowd at the visa final action stage. The visa bulletin won’t need to move any time soon to increase the size of that crowd. Thus I doubt the Visa Bulletin Chart A date will move for China in FY2021 at all, unless a miracle makes the consulates/USCIS able to work double time and actually issue the over 10,000 visas theoretically available to China this year under the unusually high FY2021 EB-5 visa quota. As I said, though, this is all very complicated. I may well revise or refine this analysis in the future as I receive more information or corrections. And please share your insights!

(Note that I don’t attempt to interpret the Vietnam EB-5 numbers on this report, because there’s no way to guess how the Vietnam number was affected by incoming I-526 approvals vs. exits to the visa final action 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.

29 Responses to FY2020 Q4 EB-5 Form Data, Mayorkas Nomination, Backlog for China 2015

  1. Lui says:

    Thank you very much Suzanne for all updates and comments.

  2. KL says:

    Thanks a lot Suzanne for the updates. Sounds like me as a Chinese EB5 with PD September 2015 won’t get I-485 current this FY, hope Mr. Mayorkas can change the situation a bit. But at least, I am luck enough that received EAD card last year through AOS. 🙂

  3. Ricardo says:

    Thank you so much, Suzanne

  4. nrp says:

    Hi Suzanne, is Sarah Kendall no longer the chief? I tried to search the USCIS website, but I found nothing regarding her stepping down.

  5. Allit says:

    Hi Suzanne, I am a Chinese applicant with an approved I-526 and PD of Dec.2016. I am in the US right now and will do AOS when my PD becomes current. When do you think the Filing Dates (Chart B) will move again? Also, the Citizenship Act of 2021 mentioned EB categories, will that include EB-5. If country caps were to be removed, then how will the green cards be issued? Base on approved applications?

  6. Oskar says:

    Hi Suzanne, love your articles, awesome work! I m from Hong Kong, and I filed my EB5, I-526 application back in Aug 2019, I just wondering when will I able here some news regarding my application, also for Hong Kong born applicant, how long do we expect waiting time for the I-526 process? Thanks

  7. Niv B says:

    Thanks for your updates Suzanne. I have my EB5 filed under India with a priority date of 9/21/2018. I have not received my EB5 approval yet. Do you know what date range is being processed currently?

    • Web says:

      They are currently processing mostly sept 27 and sept 28th 2018 priority dates.

      • Niv B says:

        So 9/21 must have been processed by now? or there is no order of dates for the month being followed? Also are denials sent right away as well?

        • MK says:

          Dear Suzzane and Web,

          I have been following both of you on your blog and comments for quite some time. I must say that in the midst of lot of information, both correct and incorrect, your work really stands out.

          This is the first time that I am posting a comment and there is a very good reason to do so. My case got approved (as updated on the USCIS website) just a few hours back.

          I am both delighted and thankful to both of you for standing a lighthouse guiding people like me.

          Regards,
          MK

        • Web says:

          Hi Niv B,

          Unfortunately USCIS does not process applications strictly first in first out. There are in fact a lot of pending applications even from early September even after accounting firm potential Chinese applications. From what I have seen, USCIS will likely get to your application within the next month, though based on historical trends it’s more likely that you will receive an RFE at this point.

          Thanks,
          Web

          • SS says:

            Hi web- could you provide info on what dates are being processed these days? Has USCIS started adjudicating any Nov and Dec 2018 PDs? This is asking for a lot but I would still request- are you able to re-do the analysis you had done a few months ago on your blog?

      • Niv B says:

        Any idea on what could be the reason or delay on our I-526(India) which has a P.D. OF 9/21/2018?

        • Kim says:

          Niv B,

          These petitions never seem to be processed in exactly the same order that they were received. My priority date was around 9/10/2018 and my petition was approved about 3 months ago. I also heard through the grapevine that some investors with 2019 priority dates got their approvals within a year of filing. So this process definitely isn’t an exact science, to say the least.

  8. Good Afternoon to everybody! Alejandro Mayorkas IS confirmed as the new Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
    Thank You for all the hard work you put in Suzanne!!

  9. AD says:

    @Suzanne, as u mentioned me about direct TEA investment, I will get RFE. Yes I did get RFE. Still its good that uscis reply something on my case. Waiting for they requested documents list. Thanks to you and WEB for helping us. GBU.

  10. Hugo says:

    Hi Suzanne. Do you understand whether the proposed bill for Biden’s 2021 Citizenship Act’s three-year timeline between green card and citizenship applies to all LPRs, including those who did not get a green card from TPS status (e.g through an EB-5)? I can’t find the draft online and different websites describe the proposal differently. Thanks!

  11. Rebecca says:

    Dear Suzzane and Web,

    My priority date for I-829 was around 5/20/2018 and it is still pending. Do you have any idea when my case should be processed? Please advise… Thank you!!

  12. Eddie Wang says:

    Hi Suzzane,
    Thank you so much for this awesome work of explaining the EB5 China current situation. As you mentioned in the article, the PD will probably not move forward since the Guangzhou consulate has issued 0 EB5 visa ever since last year. I’m wondering what’s the situation of people that’s already in the US, will their cases move forward since they don’t need the visa to enter.

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