FY2021 EB-5 visas issued by country, and analysis of constraints on visa issuance

Department of State has published the Report of the Visa Office 2021, including data for the number of EB-5 visas issued by country through consular processing and adjustment of status from October 2020 through September 2021. The following three tables summarize key data points for traditionally high-volume countries.

In normal years, visa statistics tell a story about EB-5 visa demand. In 2020 and 2021, they tell a story of processing constraints.  

  • Fewer than 3,000 EB-5 visas were issued in FY2021, limited by neither supply nor demand. FY2021 started with 18,602 EB-5 visas available to be issued and 50,936 EB-5 applicants registered at NVC waiting for visas (including 45,749 from China). Available visas were not issued to available demand due to COVID-19, regional center program expiration, and long-standing processing problems.
  • Direct EB-5 visas accounted for a relatively high percent of the total visas issued in FY2021 – not due to a spike in direct EB-5 applicants, but because regional center program expiration halted regional center visa issuance for three months of FY2021.
  • A relatively high percentage of EB-5 visas in FY2021 were issued through Adjustment of Status —  not because 31% of EB-5 demand is living in the U.S., but because COVID-19 shut down consular processing abroad more than I-485 processing in the U.S. (For the on-going pandemic impact on consular processing, see the NVC Immigrant Visa Backlog Report page.)
  • While a relatively high in terms of percentage, Adjustment of Status EB-5 visas were still a very low number in FY2021 – the lowest in five years. Generally, USCIS boasted of its efforts in FY2021 to ramp up I-485 processing volume to help compensate for consular closures and prevent visa loss. Data shows that employment-based I-485 completions increased across the board in FY2021 — except sadly not at the California Service Center, and not for EB-5 status adjustments.  AOS visas between FY2020 and FY2021 increased 35% overall, but fell 21% for EB-5. See the base of the post for additional charts illustrating I-485 trends. The regional center program expiration must be partly to blame for abnormally low AOS EB-5 visa numbers last year. Trend charts also show I-485 processing issues that predate the regional center program expiration, and even the pandemic. If you have a pending or future I-485, consider these charts and what has to change.
  • Vietnamese received more than three times as many EB-5 visas as Indians in FY2021 – not because Vietnam had more applicants ready (it had fewer), but because the consulate in Ho Chi Minh City weathered the pandemic better than the consulate in Mumbai or the California Service Center. (See charts below for processing trends by post.)
  • Chinese received even fewer EB-5 visas in FY2021 than in FY2020. This cannot be blamed on China demand (which was higher than ever in FY2021) or supply (with over 15,000 visas left “unused”), or entirely on COVID-19 (the Guangzhou consulate processed more immigrant visas overall in FY2021 than in FY2020). Chinese applicants particularly suffered from the regional center program expiration putting a stop to regional center visa issuance from July 2021.

The May 2022 Visa Bulletin indicates that visas now “may” be allocated to regional center EB-5 applicants – thus eliminating one constraint from 2021. The next question is whether and when DOS and USCIS “can” issue visas, considering the many other factors delaying and limiting visa issuance besides RC program status. I made a number of additional charts of data that bear on this question, including I-485 processing trends, I-485 backlogs, consular processing trends, and appointment interview trends.  The charts help to put EB-5 delays in a wider context, and highlight problems that need to be addressed.

I’ve thought about reopening my paid EB-5 timing service, to accommodate everyone who’s thinking “don’t make me look at charts, just tell me when I can expect a visa, given my specific situation.” The barrier is that the firm answers that people want aren’t possible. At best, I can offer personalized explanations of and reflections on contributing factors to wait times, such as described in this post. Email me at suzanne@lucidtext.com if you want a personalized (but still unfortunately complicated and qualified) guided tour. Note also my page of EB5 Timing resources.

Links to sources referenced in charts:

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.

6 Responses to FY2021 EB-5 visas issued by country, and analysis of constraints on visa issuance

  1. Harrison says:

    Hi Suzanne, USCIS has announced that they will continue to review I-526 and I-289 petitions for those who filed before June 30, 2021.
    So, do they do it right away or wait until May 15, 2022 for the new EB5 law to take effect. Thank you very much.

  2. UN says:

    Very useful data, thanks for putting it all together. Are there any steps being taken to improve I-485 processing and is NVC raising fee bill and started scheduling interviews?

  3. Jaimin Deliwala says:

    NVC has raised the fee bill on 27th April 2022, for I 526 approved on 1st April 2021.

  4. RPG says:

    Looks like things are moving at the NVC. We just got an email from NVC updating us on our application. As background, our documents were complete and clear before sunset.

    Has anybody else got anything from NVC?

    Posting the letter we got yesterday below :

    03-MAY-2022

    Dear XXXX XXXXX XXXXX,

    This notice is to inform you that your case for an immigrant visa is documentarily complete at the National Visa Center (NVC) and has been since 27-MAY-2021. NVC has received all of the fees, forms and documents required prior to attending an immigrant visa interview. Your petition is awaiting an interview appointment. At this time, no further action is required. We appreciate your patience.

    Your case will remain at NVC until an appointment is scheduled, at which time we will send it to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate General. We will notify the applicant, petitioner, and attorney (if applicable) when an appointment is scheduled.

    The U.S. Embassy or Consulate tells NVC which dates they are holding interviews. NVC fills these appointments on a first-in, first-out basis and is unable to predict when an interview will be scheduled.

    Visa interviews at many U.S. Embassies and Consulates have been delayed as result of the global COVID-19 outbreak. For the most up-to-date information about the U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s operating status, please visit their website at https://usembassy.gov.

    The next communication you receive from NVC will be either a notice that your appointment is scheduled, or if an appointment is not scheduled within the next 60 days, we will send a notice confirming that your case is still in line for an interview.

    Important: The applicant should not make any permanent financial commitments until they have received their immigrant visa. This includes activities such as:
    – Selling a house, car or property,
    – Resigning from a job, or;
    – Making other travel arrangements.

    Thank you for your continued patience.

    Regards,

    National Visa Center
    U.S. Department of State
    https://nvc.state.gov

    NVC Case Number:

    **note: please do not reply to this email. this is not a monitored account. if you have questions or need to get in touch with nvc, please follow the instructions at http://nvc.state.gov/ask to call or email us.**

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