FY2022 Q1 USCIS Processing Report

USCIS has updated the Citizenship and Immigration Data page with performance data for FY2022 Q1 (October to December 2021).

Here, in one picture, is what’s happened to USCIS performance in adjudicating EB-5 forms.

Official data now confirms what I previously reported based on leaked information: the Investor Program Office reduced I-526 processing volumes to almost nothing at the end of 2021, and also had the lowest I-829 performance numbers in two years.

These charts show performance over the course of IPO’s history.

Comparing FY2022 Q1 volumes with the average for 2017-2018, IPO processed 2 times fewer I-829 and 54 times fewer I-526. And that’s despite having (or at least, paying) more employees in 2022 than in 2017/2018. I-526 productivity for the second half of 2021 was so low as to be almost invisible in the comparison chart, and not for lack of I-526 to process. The report shows quite a few I-526 receipts that must have been direct EB-5 in the second half of 2021, not to mention the hundreds of direct cases in the backlog. I have no idea why I-829, after having shown an improvement trend in 2020, actually got worse again in 2021, even after the regional center program lapse made more resources available to work on I-829.

I previously lamented how productivity tumbled after Sarah Kendall took over as IPO chief at the end of 2018, and celebrated when she moved on at the end of 2020. Now we know that her replacement Alissa Emmel (an internal promotion, unfortunately) is even worse. If you’re a Congressperson or journalist hungry to be the hero who tackles a hot scandal that’s tying up billions of dollars and endangering thousands of job-creating projects and inviting fraud, the USCIS Investor Program Office is red meat ready for you. The numbers alone tell a shocking story, and I could offer further spicy details about what’s been going on specifically with processing, lack of industry engagement, and some evidence of conspiracy. This government department desperately needs attention and accountability.

EB-5 Form Data from the USCIS FY2022 Q1 All Forms Report

DescriptionReceivedApprovedDeniedTotal completed FY2022 Q1Pending  at period endProcessing Time (months)
I-526Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor18916456113,13240.8
I-829Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status6182992732611,73141.2
I-924Application For Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program –   –   –   –  138 N/A
I-924AAnnual Certification of Regional Center344 –   –   –  1,734 N/A

Notes:

  • The I-526 denial number looks high, but many of these are actually withdrawals (which get coded with denials for summary reports).
  • I-526 receipt numbers were impressively high in Q1, considering that only direct cases could be filed in October to December 2021.
  • The 40+ month processing times reported for EB-5 forms reflect the fact that IPO spent the end of 2021 working on a low volume of very old petitions,. “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 which is the time it took to complete 50% of all the cases processed in the quarter.” The “All Forms Report” conveniently shows that EB-5 forms have almost the worst processing times in the entire immigration service.

While USCIS does not report data specific to EB-5 I-485, I always check the category-wide I-485 report and look at performance numbers for the California Service Center, where most (all?) EB-5 I-485 get adjudicated. California Service Center productivity unfortunately also does not look good for the inventory of 5,400 Employment-Based forms. (I don’t know what fraction of the EB inventory is EB-5.)

Future processing times can be estimated by dividing inventory by processing volume. Looking at FY2022 Q1 I-526 data for example, I can see 13,132 I-526 pending and 61 I-526 processed in a quarter, and calculate that it would take 13,132/61=215 quarters (i.e. 54 years) to clear the inventory and reach my petition, if I file I-526 today and IPO does not improve on recent processing productivity. On the other hand, if IPO does improve and quickly returns to processing over 4,000 I-526 per quarter (as they did in the recent past and could do again), then the I-526 processing time estimate equation for a new I-526 becomes 13,132/4,000=3 quarters (i.e. less than one year). When prospective investors ask “how long will I-526 take?” they want an answer much closer to one year than 54 years. When Congressional reformers ask “how long will it take the agency to examine investor petitions and find any problems,” they also don’t want to hear about half centuries. IPO needs an intervention, ASAP.

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act just passed by Congress mandates USCIS to study the fees necessary to adjudicate I-526 in less than 240 days (or 120 days for a TEA investment) and I-829 in 240 days. IPO would have to process almost 5,000 I-526 per quarter and 4,400 I-829 per quarter to clear the the current inventory in 8 months.

I also have additional leaked data with processing detail for January to March 2022, including specific dates processed and RFE volume, and will report that as time permits. But my first priority is articles on the new law and how reserved visas will affect the China backlog. And I have my business plan writing day job to manage. (I hear the I-485 questions but I don’t know how to answer them. When a lawyer writes about who can use I-485 concurrent filing and when and how, I will link the article here. Or I welcome insights in the comments.)

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.

36 Responses to FY2022 Q1 USCIS Processing Report

  1. CR says:

    USCIS IPO incompetence is abysmal! The most ineffective leader would have taken advantage of this 9-month lapse to significantly advance the processing of direct I-526’s and I-829’s.

  2. Shuo says:

    “The investor filing I-829 still may be “actively in the process of creating the employment required,” but the investor must make an additional filing a year later showing that the jobs have been created. Even “Acts of God” such as hurricanes and pandemic might not justify a longer delay in job creation.”

    This is Mr Divine’s interpretation of I-829 changes. Does this mean USCIS shouldn’t, or at least can no longer, use the COVID pandemic to justify their super slow processing of I-526? In a year’s time, if they can’t adjudicate applications fast enough as required by the new law they should approve them instantly!

  3. Krish says:

    I think we should tag uscis and other news companies to this post in twitter

  4. Sharf emdad says:

    I hope the integrity reform applies for investors in the jaypeak projects as Burke Hotel. Burke hotel got investors funds to built under the supervision of VT state but zero investors got their 829 approved. Some
    Investors live saving wiped out.

  5. BI says:

    I don’t see the “Fee Study” that USCIS might or might not perform from the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act will have any impact on the speed of I-526 and I-829 processing in the near future. I obviously do not know what is going on behind the scene like you do Suzanne. So, would anyone be interested to join an organized effort to reach out to journalists who are interested to study this, have them get in contact with Suzanne, and ultimately publish an article that name drops Alissa and whoever is involved, and also include a couple of interviews/ testimonies from relevant individuals within USCIS and/or the EB-5 industry? We might possibly have a higher chance of someone picking up this story if we have enough evidence of possible fraud involving millions of dollars (or more), and implying that USCIS deliberately decided not to act while having knowledge of everything. That shows malicious intent. I am sick of just being a bystander and would like to help anyway possible.

    Other suggestions are also welcome.

    • Bumble Bee says:

      Could this be the next thing that AIIA focuses on? Now that the law is passed, it makes sense to shift gears and focus on improving the processes.

  6. UN says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    I had read Premium Processing for I 765 cleared OMB. Is it applicable for EB-5 investors? If yes, by when do you think this will be available?
    Thanks a lot!

  7. Bill says:

    As someone with a pending i829 I’m very interested to hear what the conspiracy is…

  8. Waiting patiently says:

    Thanks so much for you le detailed and insightful reporting, Suzanne! My i485 was filled in December 2020, and I received my combo card in November 2021. I am now waiting for my temporary green card. My country of origin is India – how long do you think it will take for the temporary green card to be processed?

  9. mark says:

    After the stress of the last 9 months trying worrying about reauthorisation: it is almost comforting to be discussing the poor performance of uscis processing eb5 again.

  10. Serg says:

    Now when the EB5 RC program is finally revived. I hope AIIA won’t stop its work and shift their lobbying efforts to enforce timely petition adjudications by USCIS. I’m sure a lot of people including myself will keep supporting them with donations. Thank you for your hard work guys!

  11. SR says:

    Hello Suzanne, thanks for your blog. Its been very informative for both existing and prospective investors. I have been following your blog for a year, and I feel this is the right place to ask any EB5 related queries.

    Actually, I was waiting for reauthorization and was expecting the amount to be around 700K, but finally, it landed at 800K. Due to the increase in amount, I cannot start the process now, and I have to wait for another year to collate the amount. Could you please advise if I start the process around the End of 2023? Based on your data analysis, do you think I can receive a conditional green card before 30 Sep 2026, when reauthorization expires? I would appreciate it if you provide some guidance on this. Thanks

    • CO says:

      Which is your country of birth ? USCIS processing times for 526 are available online, currently it’s few years. Might change.

      How long you have to wait depends on the country of birth/chargeability ? If India – may be a decade ( 10 – 15 years if applying in 2023, may be more). China backlog is at least two decades if applying now. Vietnam also likely to retrogress.

      Going forward there will be set aside visa for rural areas. That might change the whole dynamics and you would have to probably focus on such projects.

      • SR says:

        Hi CO, thank you very much; I am an Indian-born Australian Citizen.

        • CO says:

          Unfortunately you will face lots of hardships, the way immigration system works. I cam to US from UK in 2007, wish I never did. I lost my whole life to visa slavery.

          Talk to a reasonably honest attorney (can’t recommend anybody). However if I was in your situation, I will use AIIA (American Immigrant Investor Alliance) by becoming a member and set up consultancy with Suzanne from time to time before making any plans or moves. Telegram groups are also valuable but primarily for investors. Joining AIIA allows you access to AIIA group and lots of knowledge (PS: I am not from AIIA, I don’t have any incentive to promote them). Suzanne is the most authentic person in my opinion.

          You also have to question, is it all worth if it’s going to take 10 – 15 plus years (not discouraging).

          • SR says:

            Thank you very much for your insight analysis CO. Sure i will explore options before i jump into the process.

    • C says:

      SR,
      It’s hard to have an educated opinion without knowing your circumstances. What I can tell you is that I’ve been on this journey for 8 years. So far, no investment back and no permanent green card… and I am not from a backlogged country. Unfortunately, EB5 is not the bed of roses sold by regional centers. Investigate other possibilities and if EB5 is your only possibility, you need to have a lot of resilience and correct expectations regarding deadlines. I don’t see the situation improving in the short/medium term. Best of luck in your immigration journey.

      • Andrea says:

        How long for i526 approval? Are you at least living in US now? To all new investors, you need to understand the exit strategy as some centers want to lock up ALL monies until ALL investors are approved…..so if you are from non backlogged country, your funds are in hands of RC until backlogged countries are approved. Be very selective are there are more flexible RC’s out there.

        • C says:

          I526 took 24 months to be approved and we are living in the US since Dec 2017… as a second class citizen though. The truth is that you only have 2 years of peace with EB-5. The period you have your conditional green card. After that, you live out of USCIS extension letters and stamps.
          Of course, you have to be very selective when picking a Regional Center and project conditions. A robust due diligence process of your Regional Center increases your chance of getting your investment back. However, at the end of the day, make no mistake, we are entirely at the mercy of RCs. There is a monumental conflict of interest and the longer the time to repay the loan as per contract and beyond, the more regional centers and borrowers benefit. The COVID-19 pandemic presented the perfect excuse for regional centers to let projects fall into default. Even projects that are not connected to the hospitality industry, like Real Estate, which grew significantly during the pandemic. Net, if you have other options, EB5 is not the right choice for you.

      • SR says:

        Thank you very much for your advice.

        • Tom G. says:

          I can only echo C. advice, as my story is almost identical (still waiting after 7.5 years despite no visa backlog). If you cannot write off the $800k and do not have a home country to go back to at any time where you can make a living I recommend not to spend your money on EB5.

          • C says:

            We are no exception. Truth is that it is extremely rare for an investor not to tell a horror story about EB5. The entire journey is a tortuous one: ridiculous processing times caused by a nearly inoperative IPO, coupled with unscrupulous regional centers make the perfect storm. It’s no wonder that most RC’s didn’t want integrity measures and hate the legislators who eventually implemented them.

  12. Radhika says:

    Hello Suzanne,
    Thanks for running this blog even during the darkest days of EB5 giving your critical analysis of USCIS functioning and dismal performance metrics giving us hope and a chance for all investors to wake up.Time has come we all investors should start supporting American Immigrant Investor Alliance and to your blog in reaching out to USCIS,Senators,Congressman to see at least now USCIS focusses on priority processing of all pending petitions. A draft template appeal can be posted here for all Investors to send to their respective Senators,Congressman thanking them for the EB5 extension bill but pointing out to the flaws in USCIS processing delays and ineffective functioning putting huge amounts of investor money at stake for years.I plan to send a token amount of $ 200 for your continued support to the cause of EB5 investors.

  13. RC says:

    USCIS released the visa bulletin for April 2022, EB5regional centre still U. No visa’s for grandfathered investors. They have interpreted the new regulations that all starts in 60 days! We are still stuck, due to their incompetence of interpreting what is written.

  14. flo says:

    after 34 months waiting for our I829 to be adjudicated we finally have our 10 years GC and ready to apply for citizenship. Couldn’t indefinitely wait and wait and wait so I had to go through the mandamus action and the decision has been made in less than 180 days ….

    • NV says:

      Hi Flo, I saw on one of your other comments that you’re part of the CMB Group 48 investment. I also heard from CMB that two I-829s were adjudicated recently. When was your case adjudicated?
      I’m also on the same group and I wanted to know a little more before looking at a WOM.

  15. VK says:

    What was the basis on the lawsuit Flo? Was the processing time in your case even longer than the really long wait times listed on USCIS website and what was the process like?

  16. florent says:

    yes I joined 27 plaintiffs total for the same goal to get adjudication on our I829 because of the processing time indeed

    • VK says:

      Who did you hire? What was the cost and experience with litigation?
      At what stage would you recommend that others consider this route.

      • Florent says:

        If you look at what attorneys say about mandamus I have waited until I could wait any longer… I started looking around when I was around 22 months… You basically pay they out your name on the lawsuit and they have 180 days to answer with a decision or at least you start talking to someone…

        Hereunder is the copy of the email after my first inquiry

        We are filing another lawsuit at end of week and can add you as a plaintiff, but we would need to get retained and all information as soon as possible . Otherwise, you can join the next one (probably next month). The fee to join as a plaintiff is $6000. Once your I-829 is approved, then all permanent green cards for the entire family should be produced and issued.

        We would need the following information/documents:
        Name of NCE
        Name of RC
        Copy of conditional green card
        A#
        Copy of I-829 Receipt Notice
        Nationality
        Current US residence

        More info here – https://wolfsdorf.com/i-829-processing-times-have-run-amok/ and https://www.eb5investors.com/magazine/article/eb5-investor-litigation

        • Florent says:

          Wanted to say “couldn’t”

          The fees are based on what they were back in November 2021

          • veedster says:

            There is another lawsuit with WOM attached by Matthew Galati and IMMPACT
            https://www.immpactlitigation.com/category/notable-cases/eb-5/

            The cost is $4000. If you are memeber of AIIA it is $3000. Please check it out.

          • Tak says:

            Did anyone hear about a negative result of the lawsuit? I read online that the lawsuit forces USCIS to provide approval or denial within a certain period. It does not require them to send “Request for Information” or additional inquiries. So, if something in the I829 is not clear for them, they will just deny it instead of sending an inquiry. Is that a possibility?

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