I-829 Status Report as of August 2021

The Investor Program Office at USCIS continues to process direct and regional center I-829, even during the regional center program shutdown. However, the process and volumes need improvement. This post summarizes what I’ve been able to learn about recent I-829 processing.

Consider first official data sources: the USCIS Check Case Processing Times Page and the USCIS Immigration and Citizenship Data page.

A few points evident in this official data:

  • In 2017, IPO showed what they can do with I-829 adjudications, if they try. Their efforts topped out at about 450 decisions per month in Summer 2017.
  • I-829 productivity plummeted into 2018/2019, suggested a nice recovery trend in 2020 even under pandemic conditions, and then started falling again in 2021.
  • This fiscal year has not looked good for I-829, with increasing processing times and every quarter showing lower productivity than the last.
  • The I-829 inventory reached a record-high 11,160 pending petitions as of June 30, 2021. I-829 are not subject to filing surges, since the volume of I-829 filings is limited by the quota limit on visas issued two years previously. Because demand cannot vary unpredictably, any inventory pile-ups can only be blamed on IPO inefficiency and poor planning.
  • On the USCIS Processing Times Page, the current I-829 “Estimated Time Range” starting at 35.5 months indicates that 50% of recent I-829 decisions were on cases younger than 35.5 months (i.e. filed since September 2018) and 50% of decisions were on cases that had been pending longer than 35.5 months.

And now for some unofficial input, pieced together from shared anecdotes and leaks.

  • I-829 petitions older than 35.5 months (which USCIS reports accounting for 50% of the few recent adjudications) represent about 25% of the total pending I-829 inventory.
  • Within the 50% of recent I-829 decisions made in less than 35.5 months, there was a large range of ages.  The fastest recent I-829 approvals I’ve heard of were for petitions filed in September 2020 and approved just five months later. Such a short wait is uncommon, however.
  • In total, I’m told that there have been just over 600 decisions so far on I-829 filed in 2019 and 2020. That seems like an unfairly large number, considering that thousands of I-829 filed in 2016-2018 are still waiting for attention. However, 600 is still only 10% of total I-829 filed in 2019 and 2020, so 90% of pending I-829 with those recent dates are also still waiting for decisions. Reasons for below-average (<3 years) wait times can include luck, approved expedite requests, and Mandamus actions (which can be filed by groups of similarly-situated plaintiffs, as well as by individuals).
  • Mandamus litigation for I-829 has succeeded in some cases. USCIS can hardly support an argument that they virtuously follow FIFO discipline and thus can’t decide some cases earlier than others, since their internal records would contradict that claim, and their own Processing Time Report “Estimated Time Range” indicates that they have been adjudicating I-829 with dates ranging from earlier than 2016 to later than 2018. USCIS can hardly support a claim that they’re doing the best they can with I-829, considering that they’ve reported falling I-829 adjudication numbers every quarter this year, and are operating well below historical performance. So long as processing conditions are indefensible in fact, there’s basis to ask a judge to compel adjudication. (Hint USCIS: you’ll save so much on lawsuits if you just step up and provide reasonable processing to everyone.)
  • There’s a large reported range in the time it takes USCIS to collect and report biometrics (fingerprints). Most commonly it seems to happen within five months, but occasionally takes years.

What can we expect for future I-829 processing times? The determining factor is IPO productivity in I-829 adjudications, which follows from the resources that they choose to commit to I-829, and the procedures that they choose to implement.

As of last official report (FY2021 Q3), IPO had 11,160 pending I-829 as of June 30, 2021, and I-829 productivity was 448 decisions in three months, or average 150 decisions/month. If IPO continues to process I-829 at a rate of about 150/month, then it will take 11,160/150=75 months to clear the current pending inventory. In other words, the average I-829 filed on June 30, 2021 can expect a 6-year processing time based on current conditions, unless IPO productivity improves from its current level. IPO has the resources to get better. If IPO returned to Summer 2017 performance and consistently averaged 450 I-829 decisions per month, that would change the equation to 11,160/450=25 months expectation to reach June 2021 petitions. A two-year processing time is still too long, but would be far closer to adequate than the six years promised by current performance. On the other hand, if IPO productivity continues the past year’s trend and keeps getting worse, then wait time expectations would get even longer than six years. Obviously that would be no one’s definition of adequate service. Take note USCIS: I-829 needs an intervention and soon.

There’s every reason for I-829 productivity to improve.

  • The legal obligation is there. To quote from the 2020 Final Fee Rule: “DHS acknowledges its obligation to adjudicate Form I-829 filings within 90 days of the filing date or interview, whichever is later. See INA section 216(c)(3)(A)(ii), 8 U.S.C. 1186b (c)(3)(A)(ii).”
  • The path is clear. USCIS is a fee-funded agency, and required to plan and set fees “to ensure that USCIS has the resources it needs to provide adequate service to applicants and petitioners” (again quoting from the 2020 Fee Rule). I-829 service requirements are entirely predictable; the number I-829 filings is a function of the number of principal applicants admitted under the visa quota two years previously. The Fee Rule process allows USCIS to set whatever filing fee it needs to recover the cost of providing adequate service for this predictable workload. There’s just no excuse, from a business planning perspective, to not be providing adequate service for I-829.
  • The resources are available. At last report (in November 2020), the Investor Program Office at USCIS had a staff of 232 people. IPO has only three forms to adjudicate: I-526, I-924, and I-829. During the regional center program expiration, IPO cannot adjudicate any I-924, or any regional center I-526. What is left for 200+ EB-5-fee-funded employees to do but adjudicate I-829? Surely we must see more I-829 progress soon, unless EB-5-fee-funded resources are not being used to adjudicate EB-5 forms.
  • Apparently USCIS does care about I-829 petitioners, at least enough to post this update last week: “USCIS Extends Evidence of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents to 24 Months with Pending Form I-751 or Form I-829”  (Although… why extend receipt notices to only 24 months in reaction to I-829 processing times that have been consistently reported to be well over 30 months?  It’s puzzling.)

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.

49 Responses to I-829 Status Report as of August 2021

  1. Joseph Kruvi says:

    Thanks for your detailed response .
    Would appreciate if you have a similar update on 526 applications thru regional center. Best
    Joseph

  2. Charlie says:

    It is truly impossible to understand how USCIS operates. Everything seems to be managed by chance.
    Knowing that an I-829 was adjudicated in 6 months while you have no news of yours after 22 months, and having a friend who filed it 36 months ago and still has no news on his is quite frustrating… and, as you well indicated, the extension letter will do no good to me (although I do recognize and applaud USCIS for it as it will help many). As you well said, it is puzzling to understand why not 36 months????
    Anyhow, the impression is that they either don’t know the full implications of their actions and/or they simply don’t care. As a result, their decisions are effectively unpredictable!
    My biometrics process for the I-526 took 3 months. The one for the I-829 took 16 months. Inexplicably, the initial call for biometrics did not include my dependents, who were only called 4 months after me. My case was updated to show fingerprints were taken on the very same evening. My dependents cases have never been updated. There is no pattern (oh wait… is no pattern a pattern????), no consistency, no predictability. Not even the most basic of principles that is FIFO is respected.
    It’s hard to believe that it’s not done deliberately as a way to discourage new filings.

    • In trying to understand government agencies, I often think of Hanlon’s Razor: “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” I-829 processing conditions have been better in the past, though, and I hope they will improve again.

      • Carlos Relvas says:

        Love it! And truly hope stupidity is to blame.
        Thanks for being such a positive force. God bless you and your work.

  3. Lui says:

    Thank you for all!!!

  4. Peter says:

    It means, after 90 days its possible to file a writ of mandamus? Correct? I dont need to wait for years.

    Quote from your article:
    The legal obligation is there. To quote from the 2020 Final Fee Rule: “DHS acknowledges its obligation to adjudicate Form I-829 filings within 90 days of the filing date or interview, whichever is later. See INA section 216(c)(3)(A)(ii), 8 U.S.C. 1186b (c)(3)(A)(ii).”

    • It’s not that simple unfortunately. But you could discuss strategy with your lawyer about what might be possible in terms of timing and probability of mandamus success.

      • Mengzi Zhang says:

        Thank you for all you did for us. If we can not simply file a writ of mandamus, why do they have the 90 days in the legislation?
        It is not just unfair but also harmful for us which waiting a prolonged period. It ruined our life. I thought the U.S. is where people keep their words, especially on the legislation article. What should we do to force USCIS to deliver their service since we paid for it?

  5. G says:

    It is extremely sad to observe, but it looks like I-829 petitioners not yet filing mandamuses risk to get inadvertently discriminated in terms of processing times with every new writ of mandamus case filed by their peers. While the USCIS can easily neglect an individual immigrant, it can’t neglect a US judge making inquiries and requesting proper defenses from a federal agency.

    • Charlie says:

      I believe you have a point and if things don’t get better soon, we will eventually have a multitude of mandamus filings. Still, according to several immigration lawyers, today it is advisable to wait at least 2 years before filing a mandamus action for a I-829. Remember US attorneys can push back and force court hearings, arguing before the judge and briefing on the case. Things can drag out if action is brought relatively early in the process. The initial $15,000 for a mandamus could cost the investor much more if the government pushes back.

      • Peter says:

        My initial cost for a mandamus for I-526 were $4000. Why it should cost 15k?

        I just read the rule and I am pretty sure that the rule is clear: … the Attorney General shall make a determination, within 90 days of the date of the such filing [1] or interview ….

        Internal processing times are only indicators. For me: „public blocker“ = „dont file mandamus“

        The only main reason not to file a mandamus is for the benefit of the industry. My RC contract says clear: when all investors have removed their conditional greencards, the investment can be liquidated within 2 years.

        I still encourage to file a mandamus. At the end you get a solution because the court wants to solve it through a mediation because the industry doesnt want a public rule from any judge! Thats why a writ of mandamus against USCIS / DHS ends up into a voluntary dismissal because of an agreement.

      • G says:

        In all fairness I don’t want to agitate against a call to patiently waite in line and bet on positive scenarios. I just say we already observe a tidal wave of new mandamus filings against USCIS. Historically USCIS had been facing 5 mandamus cases/month. Currently in 2021 the number went up exponentially to 30 cases/month with some litigations having hundreds of plaintiffs.

        • Peter says:

          According to CASE #: 1:19-cv-24746-JEM, Goldberg et al v. McAleenan et al
          it has worked for more than 70 investors

          If you want to know more get a free Pacer account and search for the case files on: https://ecf.flsd.uscourts.gov/

        • Charlie says:

          I know. It’s real. In fact, the success of recent cases (for a two-year wait) have and will continue to inspire further writing of mandamus filings by program participants. And there is no way to condemn such practice. There is a limit to everyone’s patience.
          If judges continue siding with investors, USCIS will surely face an inflection point in 2022. Will they be able to handle it? Time will tell…

          • Peter says:

            There is no reason to wait for 2 years. From where are you taking the 2 years?

            I think the same as the lawsuit is filed and to use the arguments of the 180 days + 90 days + the uscis service fee of almost 4000 usd which has to be paid by the petitioner

          • Charlie says:

            Two years seems to be the consensus among experienced immigration lawyers.
            Below is an example:
            https://casetext.com/case/wurtz-v-us-citizenship-immigration-servs

          • Peter says:

            Quote: … She seeks an order requiring USCIS “to act upon [her] Form I-526 petition within 15 days…

            We are talking about I-829 Removal of Conditions, not I-526 which a ridiculous requirement to act within 15 days.

            I don’t know why you are trying to go off the I-829 topic and 90 days. Don’t confuse the people and focus on I-829!

            I am guessing you are involved into the lobby and trying to stop investors from filing mandamus.

            Thank you.

          • Charlie says:

            @Peter,
            This is not the first time you come across incredibly rude in your comments. I am not sure if it is your command of English, arrogance or just lack of a good education.
            I am 7 years on this journey and this blog has been the only constant source of positive energy. A special place where we can all share our experiences and point of views, and be informed by Suzanne who happens to be the best player I have met in the whole EB-5 industry. Please be humble.
            I wish you good luck in your journey.

          • Peter says:

            Comments with facts are not rude. It helps more than to be blind.

      • Jaja says:

        Lawyers don’t know about mandamus. Most are clowns who still tell people to wait 2 years cause they all want winning approvals instead of actually making a strong case

        • Daniel says:

          @charlie.
          I believe you are rude and arrogant with your comment. Why do you bring to the table that Peter is rude and have poor English?
          Remember. We real investor are NOT US persons. We are foreigners/ aliens. Thank God we have the money to invest but our command of English may be poor.
          Remember you earn money with foreigners most of us are not 100% white but mixed with color and different country accents. Your English is so perfect because you are a US born.
          Please don’t discriminate the people that brings money to your table.
          I read all PETER comments and are just facts. Can you speak another language as good as we speak English?
          God bless.

          • Charlie says:

            @Daniel, so I would be an American chasing an EB-5 visa!? That’s Brilliant!
            Let’s close this thread as Suzanne doesn’t deserve this type of exchange in her blog. God bless you too.

          • Peter says:

            @Charlie

            Well done Daniel. Charlie is in charge to close the thread on the blog. Good to know. 🤭

            I hope that I could help with some information other investors.

  6. Pingback: With No Regional Center-Based EB-5 Applications to Process, Why is I-829 Adjudication Slowing? – Advance Global Partners

  7. Daniel says:

    @Charlie.
    No, you understand very well what I mean. In my opinion you are in the EB5 business because all your comments are trying to encourage investors to wait like a good sheep and play what the lobby wants. I believe that all your comments are trying to protect the industry. Your perfect command of English gives me the impression that you are a wealthy studied US born person. I even thought that you are the same person from the videos posted here but maybe I am wrong :).
    Suzzane blog is great and helpful, besides she never brings to the table race or education level.
    Suzzane’s blog has been really a big hope for me.
    God bless Suzanne and I hope that the lobby stops playing with investors hopes and lives.
    You can earn money being fair too.
    I will not answer to this thread anymore because this leads to nothing good but I may come back for another post.
    For the next time please just accept that you wanted to discriminate someone by exposing their poor command of English ( which is understandable because we are aliens).

  8. Ok, let’s not have any more comments on Mandamus, and certainly not personal insults. I agree with points made in support of and also as a caution against Mandamus actions, which have a track record of success and also of failure. And the most obvious factor in failed or protracted/expensive fights is lacking a strong and obvious basis to argue “unreasonable delay,” considering the length of the wait time.
    One thing I’d like to point out: if a lawyer advises “don’t file Mandamus yet” or “pushing for a decision now will not help your case” the lawyer is saying “thank you for offering to let me sell you an additional service and earn easy money from you, but I’m not going to take the opportunity.” And that’s probably unselfish. We should be all be thankful for service providers who will honestly say “I’m not going to take your money to provide this service because according to my judgment and experience I do not believe the result will be what you expect.” Certainly, anyone not happy with such cautionary advice can easily find other service providers who are (a) more optimistic/aggressive or informed, or (b) more willing to accept money to file papers regardless of probability of success.

  9. RPG says:

    Hi Suzanne, in your opinion, what are the possible routes, the key deal agreement elements, and the timelines for a reauthorisation to happen? I realise that this is almost like asking you to be Nostradamus :-), but I’m sure to many of us, you are the only person we know who could predict how things could progress positively towards an RC program re-authorisation. As information, I am an Indian investor living in Mumbai, and my petition was approved Nov’2020, and my visa application was certified complete and clear by NVC early Jun’2021. While I know the bigger hurdle to get an interview slot in Mumbai is the Covid related backlog, any delay in reauthorisation makes me even more nervous as you can imagine… Thanks in advance for your prediction :-)….

    • Peter says:

      Hello RPG, I feel your pain and I am in a similiar situation. You need to wait at least until September 20. From September 20 the lawmakers will sit again together. I know you asked your question before in another thread and you were ignored. I hope my comment helps:

      Check this: https://bgrdc.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2021-Combined-Congressional-Calendar-BGR.pdf

      I am not Nostradamus, but I predict it will be reauthorized before September 30. On October 1 starts the new fiscal year I can not imagine that some owners of 9 or more regional centers are interested to loose the business.

      Besides I saw there are several events for EB-5 in the first week of October. I can not imagine they will have a funeral event to burry the regional centers.

      Just don’t forget, the USA is making the best movies in the world. The regional center lapse is just a big movie for their own benefit. Why? Just simple example: It’s still a pilot program after 25 years, and not a permament program. So, lets enjoy the next Season 26 😉

      I hope that you get your visa before the next lapse comes.

      • AD says:

        Thank you Peter for answering this and thank you RPG for your question. I have the same concerns as yours. My EB5 got approved in March 2021. My priority date should have had become current, if the backlog did not happen. I was so excited that I even did the medical check with USCIS-approved physician. Now that form is expired. My lawyers seem to not care enough to tell me about potential lapse back in July.

        Now I sincerely hope that what Peter said it’s true. We investors have been waiting for too long.

        • Peter says:

          @AD

          Thank you AD to share your story.

          How many years have you waited for the I-526 approval?

        • Bhavesh says:

          @AD, USCIS has already said that our form 693 is valid for FOUR years.

          Based on what I’ve read so far, I think that the RC program may not get reauthorized as some stakeholders are still unwilling to agree to changes that politicians are demanding and it’s extremely unlikely that Democrat politicians will waste political capital fighting for RCs when they already have members of their own caucus opposing reauthorization without major changes.
          Bottom line is, thanks to USCIS dragging their feet, we’ll all continue suffering.

          • AD says:

            @Bhavesh
            I did not know they extended the 693 form to be valid for 4 years. Thanks for letting me know that.

            Is this 4 years valid AFTER uscis received my 693? Cause I haven’t be able to send it, since the backlog happened right when my priority date became current

    • Rm lokesh says:

      Hello ,

      I am also Indian , can you explain the process of post approval I-526 process? I am also in mumbai

      • Peter says:

        @RM

        Hello, there is no post approval. It exists only an „approval“.

        When have you filed your I-526 petition?

        Thanks for sharing.

  10. Ricardo RJ says:

    I´m from BRAZIL. I applied in oct 2019.

  11. FLORENT says:

    my I829 case was received on march 28 2019 and still nothing from USCIS except almost 4 weeks we got our fingerprints done for the entire family — GROUP48 CMB

  12. Saite says:

    It is really helpful. Thank you so much.

  13. Gerard says:

    Hello Suzanne,
    i have been following your posts for years and they have the best insights on the EB-5.
    I am an investor (2014) and after approval of my I-829, i have finally received my permanent Green Card early in February 2021.
    My family went to their first biometric appointments in March, and since then (9 months) nothing…
    Their ADIT stamp on their passports is only valid for a couple months.

    All my research just found that once the I-829 petition is adjudicated,
    family members receive their green cards…
    i never read anywhere that there was another layer of adversity for the family members after adjudication.

    Is there any rule about this?

    • Charlie says:

      Congratulations, Gerard! I am a November 2014 investor. It has always been my understanding that the biometrics process was a prerequisite for the adjudication and once the petitioner was approved his/her eligible dependents were also approved. In my own case, despite having already done the biometrics for the I-526, it was necessary to do it again for the I-829 process, which, by the way, seems to be the common procedure nowadays. For the I-526, the entire family was called to biometrics. For I-829, for my amusement, I was called alone. My dependents were only called 4 months later. USCIS is effectively unpredictable.

    • Gerard, I do not know why your family members would not have received green cards also, if they were included on your I-829. I hope that your lawyer is being a helpful guide through the confusion, and that you’ll get resolution soon! The records systems used by USCIS are apparently really terrible, so that could be a contributing factor in steps remaining uncompleted.

  14. FLORENT LEPVREAU says:

    We should all go outside the IPO and protest why not ?

  15. Mengzi Zhang says:

    Thank you for all you did for us. If we can not simply file a writ of mandamus, why do they have the 90 days in the legislation?
    It is not just unfair but also harmful for us which waiting a prolonged period. It ruined our life. I thought the U.S. is where people keep their words, especially on the legislation article. What should we do to force USCIS to deliver their service since we paid for it?

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