EB-5 news (USCIS public input request, reauthorization, RFE response and litigation, NVC update, PT report update)

Request for Public Input

Today DHS published Request for Public Input: Identifying Barriers Across USCIS Benefits and Services. This request aims “to better understand and identify administrative barriers and burdens (including paperwork requirements, waiting time, and other obstacles) that impair the functions of the USCIS process and unnecessarily impede access to USCIS immigration benefits.” Thank you Secretary Mayorkas! Yes, we have input for you.  

Click on the above link for instructions for how to submit effective comments. Note that the comment due date – originally written in error as today – has been updated to May 19, 2021. If anyone would like to hire me for EB-5-specific comment writing service, I am available and bring a successful track record. The Final Rules on the EB-5 Modernization Regulation and the 2019 USCIS Fee Rule both quote extensively from comments that I submitted on the proposed rules. My strategy is to be rigorous and draw on my massive repository of data and citations.

Reauthorization

The best news I have on the push for regional center program authorization is that EB-5 giant Robert Divine has published an article in EB5 Investors Magazine: “The problem with EB-5’s reliance on temporary legislation.”  In just 600 unminced words, Mr. Divine explains the reauthorization situation and what’s at stake for investors, industry, and the country. If I were writing to my representative to press for reauthorization, I would attach Mr. Divine’s article as clear, honest, and authoritative background reference. If I shared anything on social media, I’d share this article as a call to action. And I’d like to give a standing ovation to this conclusion from the article:

Congress should at least provide that the regional center legislation in effect at the time an investor files Form I-526 will remain in place throughout those waits until the investor can remove conditions on permanent residence through adjudication of Form I-829. The United States is a country of laws designed to protect reasonable expectations. This nation should not be encouraging people to invest to create jobs for us without protecting the reasonable expectations of investors who take the risk of such investment.

I continue to update my Reauthorization page as I hear of news and resources. Most recently, I noted that the text of S.831 has finally been published at Congress.gov.

RFEs and Litigation

The April 2021 edition of EB5 Investors Magazine is generally rich in helpful articles. I particularly note my article, and multiple articles on recent trends in EB-5 litigation.

Consular Processing and Visa Updates

The Visa News page on the Department of State website includes several significant updates.

  • Apr 6, 2021 Visa Services Operating Status Update This post confirms that as of April 2021, EB-5 is still not a priority for interview scheduling. “Posts that process immigrant visa applications are prioritizing Immediate Relative family members of U.S. citizens, including intercountry adoptions, fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, and certain Special Immigrant Visa applications.”
  • Apr 9, 2021 National Visa Center Meeting with AILA on February 17,2021 This meeting transcript from February is full of interesting information. Including:
    • “During CY 2020, the median time for an approved I-526 petition to reach NVC from USCIS was 126 days…. NVC does not have a way to proactively search USCIS systems for approved I-526 petitions that have not been electronically transferred to NVC.” (DOS here quantifies the problem of delays by USCIS in forwarding I-526 approvals to NVC, and suggests there’s not much DOS can do about the problem.)
    • “As of January 25, 2021, NVC’s queue of documentarily complete employment-based or family-sponsored cases (including family preference and immediate relative cases), with a visa number available, waiting for an immigrant visa interview is: Family-Sponsored: 312,782 cases; Employment: 11,504 cases; EB-5: 3,930 cases.” (That huge family-based number is alarming, because family cases are getting priority over employment cases as noted above. The EB-5 number is interesting, because it tells us how many consular cases are ready to go based on how far the visa bulletin has already moved. The total number of EB-5 cases registered on the immigrant waiting list at NVC, which includes those without visas available yet per the visa bulletin, is much higher of course.)

See also “Briefing with Consular Affairs Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services Julie M. Stufft on the Current Status of Immigrant Visa Processing at Embassies and Consulates” from March 1, 2021

The May 2021 visa bulletin has announced another “Chats with Charlie” to take place on April 22, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. EST at https://www.youtube.com/user/TravelGov Questions can be emailed to VisaBulletin@state.gov ahead of the event with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line. The previous visa bulletin live chat from March 17 was incredibly helpful and informative, and I’m looking forward to the April iteration.

Processing Time Report Update

The USCIS website has long had a page titled “Historical Average Processing Times” that I used to ignore because it reported a meaningless and misleading data point. Instead of reporting processing times, this “processing times” page used to report “average age of all petitions currently pending.” Average inventory age combines processed and unprocessed petitions, naturally falls with an influx of new receipts, and does not directly reflect on processing times. This misleading page was probably heavily referenced by people filing Mandamus complaints, because average inventory age is often less than processing times. And now, USCIS has finally gotten around to fixing the page. 

Since March 31, 2021, the Historical Average page is now titled “Historical National Median Processing Time (in Months) for All USCIS Offices for Select Forms By Fiscal Year,” and uses a revised method. Instead of reporting average inventory age, the page now reports median age specifically of processed forms, consistent with the method used for the Case Processing Times page.  “Processing times are defined as the number of months it took for an application, petition, or request to be processed from receipt to completion in a given time period. …The number of months presented is the median. It represents the time it took to complete 50% of the cases in a given time period.” This page provides median times across a full year, which are interesting when compared with median times reported monthly for those same years (as recorded in my on-going log). For example, the Historical Average page now reports a median I-526 processing time of 19 months across FY2019 adjudications, while monthly I-526 processing time reports from October 2018 to September 2019 indicated median times ranging from 20 to 27.5 months – never as low as 19 months. Hmmmmm….. After all, the revised Historical Average page continues to provide ammunition for Mandamus lawyers seeking to show that the monthly USCIS processing times reports are misleading. The annual averages also starkly illustrate that the I-526 visa availability approach, instituted in 2020, did not bring down the average age of adjudicated cases as intended by USCIS.

Historical National Median Processing Time (in Months) for All USCIS Offices for Select Forms By Fiscal Year: Fiscal Year 2017 to 2021 (up to March 31, 2021)

FormFY 2017FY 2018FY 2019FY 2020FY2021 to March 31
I-52616.617.91931.231.2
I-82918.221.825.924.833.7
I-92419.51918.819.134.8
I-485 (all employment-based)710.6108.811.5
summarized from https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/historic-pt as of April 19, 2021

Sharing I-526 Experience

The most compelling processing time evidence comes from individual experience. I appreciate EB-5 investors who share their experience and case status analysis in blog post comments. And I appreciate the suggestion for a single static place to collect these reports for common reference. I’ve made failed attempts at this in the past (including starting a forum that I didn’t have time to moderate, and setting up a Google form whose link no one can ever find). But I will continue to think how I can best facilitate info sharing. FYI, from my various information sources, November 2018 continues to be the filing date I most commonly see on I-526 decisions.

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.

35 Responses to EB-5 news (USCIS public input request, reauthorization, RFE response and litigation, NVC update, PT report update)

  1. Lui says:

    Suzanne thank you very much for so useful content. Has Suzanne (or someone else) heard which month of filling date is USCIS adjudicating now on I-829 forms?

    • People haven’t been reporting I-829 experience to me, but I’d be very interested to hear about progress. The monthly processing times report hasn’t been trending in a good direction for I-829. Reports, anyone?

      • Filed on 11/12/2020, got receipt on 2/9/2021. So far, as of 4/20/2021, no Biometric appointment, no RFE, no nothing.

        • Charlie says:

          The system is clearly broken. I filed my I-829 on September 6, 2019. Biometrics was only booked for December 3, 2020 i.e nearly 15 months later! To make matters worst, they booked it just for myself, not my family. After reaching out to USCIS, they booked biometrics for my family by March end. Although, all fingerprints have now been taken, the system still does not show they have as far as my wife and kids are concerned.

          • Thanks for the information! Quick question: your family got green cards via adjustment of status (I-485) or consular processing? I got mine via AOS and had fingerprints already (~5years ago)—not sure if it can be reused or not. Thanks!

        • Charlie says:

          BOSonvestorVoice:
          Green cards were obtained through I-485 (adjustment of status). Had fingerprints for all family. Had to renew them again for the I-829 process. 😦

  2. Swami says:

    Thank you very much Suzanne for this very insightful information. Your blog is a must read for me every single day. Is there any way to find what is the approximate wait time for EB5 Counselor processing in AbuDhabi Post. The only statistic i have seen is the monthly visa processed by each post, in which they have processed 14 visa (i5 category) in Feb. How can we ascertain the approximate wait time for me having wait 4 months from NVC complete and 13 months from i525 approval.

    • I am in the same position as you — not sure what to track for consular processing except for the monthly issuance data by post, looking for volume trends plus comparison with volume in previous years. It would be helpful to know how much backlog is at specific posts, but I haven’t found that info. You might try emailing your question to VisaBulletin@state.gov with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line, and see if by chance Charlie answers your question in the April 22 Youtube chat.

  3. Amy says:

    Thanks Suzanne – the i485 dates in the table you shared are across all employment based categories correct? Do you happen to know how long are i485 approvals taking these days for EB5 related cases?

    • Yes, the I-485 is across all EB categories. The most recent personal report I heard for EB-5 I-485 is someone who filed in February 2020 and got approval in March 2021.

      • Jitendra somani says:

        USCiS website indicates that at California Centre- it is taking 24 to 30 months to process I-131 and EAD for I-485 AOS cases. Is that true with current experience. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

        • Jitendra Somani says:

          Hi, does anybody has experience of i485 based adjustment of status for Eb5. How long does the EAD and Advance Parole take post filing the AOS – at California centre. The website indicates 24-30 months. Worried about not being able to travel at all for more than two years and see old parents.

          • Yash Brahmbhatt says:

            Yea .. we need folks to put their Aos/COS EAD timeline and stats.

            I too would like to know when I’ll receive my EAD

  4. OP says:

    Hi Suzanne, thank s for sharing love your article!

    Again I actually did keep tracking range of I-526 applications daily, and yes the application process seems getting fast in recent weeks… and yes, if you need help to improve the visa application statistics, feel free to contact me, I love to share my data with you.

    The link below is a data til 14 of April… and I m working on API to make the query and pull data much easier.
    https://atorpos.github.io/eb5tracker/Result_14_04_2021.html

    • Thank you for sharing your work. Very interesting! I have an endless appetite for more data. I see that the report you posed shows approvals after August 2019, but not receipts after August 2019. I also note that USCIS reported 1,000 more receipts October 2018 to June 2019 than there are WAC numbers for those dates in the report you posted. I really wonder what record system USCIS uses. No data from them ever quite matches any other report. If only they’d hire you to make an API to improve their system!

      • OP says:

        The reason why there’s only 3000-ish cases in that range is because I was start to scrap the case id by guessing, but it turns out USCIS seems change the range in period of time, so the range is from WAC199000000 to WAC1990320000(since my application is in that range) and couple WAC1890400000 to WAC1890500000

        So if other people willing to share the case no which no that these range, I will happy to add to the range and run the scrap time by time

        Also I believe the case id + applicant place of born data will make the result of data analysis more informative

        • Ricardo says:

          OP, thank you for your help. Your data base is great.

        • Jay says:

          Hi OP,
          Bulk of last minute activity before increase of investment amount happened in September- November 2019 periods. Most of these case ID’s are in WAC2090030001 to WAC209003 6000 range. Can you please scrape them and add to your existing list.

      • OP says:

        >> If only they’d hire you to make an API to improve their system!

        No way… because they need to help me to get H-1B sponsorship visa and it takes forever to get there LOL

    • indian says:

      Appreciate your efforts some case numbers are missing can i know why please

    • GP says:

      Hey OP!

      This data is great! Will you be able to add case numbers in range of WAC1890327689 – WAC1890327757?

      Appreciate your help!
      Thanks!

  5. NKS says:

    Hi Suzanne! Thanks for the wonderful content.
    We filed I-526 in late 2018 and got approval this week. My child was 20.5 years old at time of filing.
    So now with the I-526 approval the age unfroze again.
    How do we ensure my child gets the green card since only 6 months left for the age limit after unfreeze? It’s taking a lot of time from NVC’s side for any progress on scheduling interviews I understand.

  6. David says:

    The U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City is leading the world in issuing EB-5 visas. According to the latest visa statistics from the State Department, that consulate issued 321 EB-5 visas (I5 category) in March 2021, more than the rest of the other embassies and consulates combined! They also issued 121 EB-5 visas in February 2021. Vietnam-based EB-5 applicants have a big advantage.

  7. Aarti says:

    Please share the I-526 Tracker. Thank you 😊

  8. Yash Brahmbhatt says:

    Can we have folks to put their Aos/COS (change of status) EAD timeline and stats?

    It will be helpful to see how long the wait is to receive EAD/travel document from the point of filing adjustment of status.

    • VJ says:

      it will be really helpful, my receipt dates for aos and ead was in September 2020 but no biometrics of RFE yet

  9. Yash Brahmbhatt says:

    ANY december 2018 PD approvals yet?

  10. Sam says:

    Hello Suzanne,
    Regarding “the median time for an approved I-526 petition to reach NVC from USCIS was 126 days”.
    Is there any recent update on this number? Have been waiting for 4+ months after getting i-526 approval but still haven’t received any contact from NVC. I tried contacting NVC and they gave me generic response that I’ll have to wait till USCIS forwards the case to NVC.
    Also is there any email that I can reach out to(IPO or any) to further check the status of my application?

    • Patricia Acosta says:

      Hello Sam, I am in the same situation February 7 2021 and even USCIS does not send my almost to NVC. If I have any answer I’ll let you know and I hope you do too. regards

Leave a Reply to Aarti Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.