An Open Letter to Kevin Muck at IPO about I-526 data and avoiding EB-5 backlogs


Dear Kevin Muck,

You introduced yourself in the October 2022 EB-5 stakeholder meeting as I-526 Division Chief at IPO, with ten years of experience as an IPO economist preceded by eight years of service at the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

With your background and status, you should be capable and informed about the EB-5 process. But you said something ignorant and dangerous in today’s EB-5 stakeholder engagement.

A question was asked about reporting I-526/I-526E receipt data by TEA category/country, for the purpose of monitoring and avoiding backlogs in the new TEA categories. You responded that stakeholders should consult the Visa Bulletin, and see that the current Visa Bulletin reports TEA categories as “current.”

Think about it, Kevin. Do EB-5 backlogs not exist until they appear at the visa stage/in the visa bulletin? Do you believe that someone filing I-526E today gets visa availability based on the dates in today’s Visa Bulletin?

If you think that, try to look in the face of an Indian who filed I-526 in December 2020, and say “You didn’t need to know about the 2,300+ other Indian I-526 we already had on file at USCIS in December 2020, but didn’t disclose except through FOIA years later.” Try to tell him: “The December 2020 visa bulletin when you filed I-526 said that India EB-5 was current so obviously you were good to go — no backlog for you to worry about when you invested! The visas available to India back when you filed I-526 must still be available to you now, right? Oh… wait… you can’t actually apply for a visa now because India EB-5 now shows as backlogged to mid 2018 in today’s visa bulletin. But how could anyone have guessed? Those visa bulletin dates appear out of nowhere! Surely nothing to do with the number of Indians who filed I-526 in 2018/2019, or our rate of adjudication! Surely IPO was right to ignore Suzanne when she wrote over and over to the IPO Customer Service Mailbox, begging for backlog-relevant I-526 data to enable backlog/wait time prediction! Why would anyone need to ask how many people are entering and lingering in the back of the queue at USCIS, when the Visa Bulletin reports conditions just fine at the terminus of the queue at Department of State?”

Think about it: in a situation where unlimited tickets can be sold for limited seats, why might prospective ticket buyers possibly want to inquire about how many tickets have already been sold?

In a situation where I-526 filing numbers turn into future priority dates for visa issuance, why might anyone possibly want to ask about filing numbers? Do you say — sorry, just wait ’til you all reach the visa application stage and then find out from the visa bulletin?

Kevin Muck, think about today’s prospective investor from China who is considering EB-5 investment with a rural project. With the 20% rural allocation and 7% country cap, that investor can count certainly on competing for one of about 140 visas per year (about 10,000*20%*7%) – anything above that depends on the unknowns of current/future rest-of-world demand and carryover timing. With such limited availability, why might that prospective investor want to know how many Chinese have already filed I-526 for rural projects, whether 80 or 800? Why could that prospect want timely data to show whether/when I-526 volume overall is sufficient to max out the category and activate country caps once the demand reaches the visa stage? Why might she want the receipt data necessary to estimate whether the rural queue already formed at the I-526 stage is of a size to take two years or 10 years to make it past the visa window? And it’s not only investors who want to estimate their investment and immigration horizon at the time of investment — issuers and projects and regional centers require this for their planning as well. And the government also has an interest.

Think about it: what’s the word for soliciting investment with an incentive that might not actually be available? When the U.S. government offers an investor visa incentive, at the same time making it impossible for the investor or issuers to estimate visa availability at the time of investment, I’d call that fraud by the government. It rests on IPO to keep the U.S. government out of such embarrassment by reporting on the I-526 filings that drive EB-5 visa demand and availability.

I have requested this so many times from USCIS, but I know your name and your face now, Kevin Muck, and the size of your salary, and I appeal to you personally. Now that you’ve applied your economist brain to the situation and realize the importance of this data for program integrity, please help make it happen! Here is the report that we need to have USCIS start publishing, at minimum quarterly and at minimum with data no less than three months old. (Even better if we can get monthly reports with data only one month old, but truly anything will be an improvement over current blank silence. USCIS already provides monthly reporting internally to the visa bulletin working group, so adding public reporting should not be a great reach.)

Number of I-526 receipts by country and category for the period ______    
 Rural TEAHigh Unemployment TEAInfrastructure TEAUnreserved
All countries    

*Note: It seems that we need only these countries in the report, since the Federal Register notice RIN 1400–ZA27 clarified that the per-country limit is only triggered when demand exceeds 7% of all FB and EB visas. Which historically means that only China, India, Vietnam, Mexico, Philippines and Dominican Republic are in the country cap danger zone overall, and the last two can safely be disregarded for this report since they’ve never been remotely significant in EB-5.

That’s all for now Kevin. Thank you for putting yourself out to be faced with challenges like these. I depend on you to talk USCIS out of its practice of concealing I-526/I-526E filing information.



(For more background and explanation, see also AIIA’s well-researched article How does the Visa Bulletin Work? And for such EB-5 demand data as I have managed to collect by hook or by crook, see my regularly updated Processing Data page and the Excel file I keep linked to the top of my EB-5 Timing Page.)

About Suzanne (
Suzanne Lazicki is a business plan writer, EB-5 expert, and founder of Lucid Professional Writing. Contact me at (626) 660-4030.

33 Responses to An Open Letter to Kevin Muck at IPO about I-526 data and avoiding EB-5 backlogs

  1. Katy B says:

    Wow. Well said, Suzanne. And thank you.

  2. Robert Frost says:

    Very good letter, Suzanne. Those of us doing our best to make this program work appreciate your effort. Let’s hope it bears fruit for all of us. BTW, in case you haven’t thought about it, you might consider getting one of those phone apps that will remotely start your vehicle……….just sayin’!

  3. rpglorpg says:

    Very glad to see you taking Officer Muck to task for his unwillingness to address a question of great importance to everyone in the program. I hope he sees this comment.

  4. Krish Vr says:

    This is really an amazing letter. But I don’t know whether these guys will do anything good. You have worked tirelessly and also provided so much data for these people. But nothing seems happening. I don’t know is there a way we can file a law suit against this immigration fraud.

    • Anil kumar says:

      Excellent piece of work by Suzanne,Thannks for bringing this to the attention of Kevin Muck which he is very likely to ignore it.It seems that EB5 (I 526) programme is something which could be equated to deliberate fraudulent activity conducted by USCIS.Iam regretting that on my wrong advice I persuaded my daughter ( India born) to borrow money to file I 526 petition in January 2022.I am regretting 24*7

  5. Mag says:

    Thank you so much, Suzanne, you’ve helped us to point out the uncertainty and our thoughts from an investor perspective! Well done!

    I am from Hong Kong, I believe Hong Kong also has a high ratio of investors when compared to other countries, as long as I know so far, all HK cases were pending, and have had no progress with the filing date since 2018, much behind Korea around 2019-2020. It would be great if you can also include Hong Kong in your upcoming sharing on the EB5 progress analysis.

    • I used worry about EB-5 backlogs for South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Brazil, which have had EB-5 demand nearing/over 7% of available EB-5 visas. My worry increased with the addition of reserved visa categories, where 7% of the reserved number is so small that many countries could exceed 7% within each category. However, Department of State just clarified in a Federal Register posting that the 7% country cap limit is only triggered within a category for countries that exceed 7% across family-based and employment-based visas. If you look for example at the 2019 Annual Report of the Visa Office (, you can see that this condition applies for the countries of China, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Meanwhile Hong Kong, while it’s a relatively large EB-5 visa user, only claimed 0.5% of total FB and EB visas — nowhere near the 7% “fair share” — and thus apparently out of the danger zone regardless of EB-5-specific demand. At least that’s my understanding from the Federal Register posting.

      “The Department seeks to clarify that the INA permits prorated allocation of available visas within an employment-based preference category to nationals from an individual country only when family-sponsored and employment-based preference visa demand from that country will exceed its per-country limit under INA section 202(a)(2), 8 U.S.C.1152(a)(2)

      Specifically, INA 202(a), 8 U.S.C.1152(a), makes clear that the per-country limit, which is implemented by setting final action dates for a country in the Visa Bulletin, is triggered only when preference immigrant visa demand from a country will exceed seven percent of the total number of preference visas made available in INAs ection 203(a)–(b), 8 U.S.C. 1153(a)–(b);that is, seven percent of the total number available for all family-sponsored and employment-based preference immigrant visas available worldwide.”

      Click to access 2023-06252.pdf

  6. Maxwell Wittgenstein says:

    Great. With tons of information yet to be clarified, the most urgent one is to quickly clear the long-lingering backlog with a universally accepted FIFO mindset in place.

  7. Maxwell Wittgenstein says:

    A meeting is supposed to be arranged for this purpose.

  8. saurabh khanna says:

    Thanks for the effort Suzanne

  9. Roht Turkhud says:

    Amazing article. Tough, candid and an expression of extreme frustration! Wow, but will it yield any results?

  10. Bruce says:

    Suzanne, thank you so much for speaking out loud. Indeed, as one of the backlogged immigrants who have been waiting for visa number for more than 7 years and still dont know when it will be current, I’d call that fraud. Data transparency and traceability is a must.

  11. EBHived says:

    Suzanne you are an angel. Thank you for your efforts always. I am praying for all of us EB5 investors to soon realize our American dream.

  12. AS says:

    Thanks for you efforts Suzanne. We are spending too much on EB5 and I guess we should support Suzanne with little bit of money for doing a great job for us all “Especially for Asian countries”, so that she will keep on updating us all the time.


  13. Lee says:

    The weakest chain to the success of EB-5 Program has always been USCIS. Nothing will change. This is why as the govt grows bigger and bigger, it becomes more and more inefficient and ultimately becomes a dead weight and a hinderance to any program that actually create jobs.

  14. Anil Kumar says:

    USCIS should stop accepting I526 petition until the backlogged countries applications have been adjudicated.

  15. noahwwww says:

    Thank you so much Suzanne!

  16. Jay. says:

    Visa bulletin for June 2023 shows further retrogression for India (April 2017). Any Indian national who is residing outside of USA should not even think of investing in this category as your funds will be held hostage by Regional Centers for more than 10 years without any positive benefit to you or your dependents. Sincere and honest advice from a disgruntled investor – Do NOT Invest. It is a loosing proposition and you will end up wasting 10 years of your life thinking about this misadventure.

    • The retrogression to such an early date signals that Department of State has already issued most of the unreserved visas available to India this year, and thus setting the Visa Bulletin as a stoplight, not that DOS has a lot of demand on file as early as April 2017. (Monthly visa issuance data shows that nearly 600 visas have already been issued this year to India through consular processing alone, and India only has 666 available for the year. And as the note at the end of the June 2023 Visa Bulletin says “it has been determined that India is approaching its prorated limit for EB-5 numbers.”)

  17. Curt says:

    I am a Canadian investor residing in Canada looking at possibly applying for the EB-5.

    Do the backlogs impact investors from other, low-demand countries as well, such as Canada? USCIS’ website states that they took 60 months to process 80% of the I-526 petitions for “All other areas” other than China and India. Do you know if the processing time for Canada is 60 months? If different, what is the average processing time for Canadian investors?

    After approval of the I-526, how long will it take to get the Consulate interview to get the visa and conditional green card activated?

    What is the success rate of regional center projects? That is, what percentage of projects create 10 jobs per investor so that investors get the I-526 and I-829 approved?

    What percentage of regional centers did not return the original principal back to the investors? Or, what percentage of investors got all of their money back?

    • Katy B says:

      Hi Curt

      This is a good place to ask questions, with existing investors on hand to share their experiences

      There are also groups for people who have already invested, plus sub groups for consular processing, AOS, specific projects etc

      • Curt says:

        There are a number of factors that should reduce processing times:
        1. The number of applications have dropped to 2009 levels. Click on “In-depth analysis” to expand:
        It shows a chart for “Number of applications received per fiscal year”, which shows that this was 1,000 in 2009, started going up in 2010, peaked at 14,000 in 2015-2016, and dropped to 800 in 2021-2022.
        2. Covid and lockdowns are now over.
        3. In 2022, USCIS started hiring more people to process.

        Given the above, how long do you think it should take to get the I-526 processed and consulate interview, if you had to guess? Don’t worry, I won’t hold you to it.

        • In the I-526 context, the problem is not IPO’s ability to keep up with receipts. I-526 adjudication volume has exceeded the low receipt volume every year since 2017. The problem is the lingering backlog, that hasn’t been growing but also not shrinking significantly. IPO has more than doubled its adjudication volume since recovering from COVID and the RC program shutdown, going from <100 completions per month to 200+ completions per month. That's great improvement — but still alarming for processing times when over 13,000 petitions I-526 remain to be processed, including 6,000+ from countries other than China and India. I'd say your only hope for short I-526E processing time is if (1) the I-956F for the NCE in which you'd invest has already been approved, as evidenced by a USCIS approval notice that you can check, and (2) USCIS establishes a separate queue for I-526E and strives to process associated petitions within a reasonable time after the I-956F approval, regardless of date priority with respect to other I-526 (as I guess might happen, but not guaranteed). If USCIS does keep to a FIFO discipline, new petitioners are certainly in for a long wait, because 600% improvement doesn't happen quickly. As for the consular interview time, you might expect the normal <1 year time-frame if a long I-526E processing time puts your visa stage far in the future, once the consulate will hopefully be back to normal. If you could get I-526E approval and reach the visa stage soon, you'll likely find the consulate still backlogged and something closer to the current 2+ year interview wait. (For reference, see, which shows that as of March 2023, the consulate is scheduling employment cases that were documentarily complete in January 2021. )

          • Andrea says:

            If the other 6 consular locations opened for immigrant interviews, like pre pandemic, then scheduling dates should move along from DQ Jan 2021 date….I keep watching the slow gov’t movement back and forth.

  18. Andrea says:

    I am a Canadian investor with priority date Oct 3019 still waiting for EB5 approval. I would be willing to discuss offline if you are interested. Andrea

  19. Anil Kumar says:

    EB5 (I526)is worst run immigration system amongst G7 countries.once funds are placed in the hands of regional centre applicants become their hostage.

  20. Bagabond says:

    So Close, yet so far…
    PD Nov 2018 from India…Interview must have been scheduled last year when Final action date was current. Delayed by over 6 months because there was no indication from NVC that we had to submit civil documents by email. It took help from a Congressman’s office to find this out. Interview on Apr 17th went well but priority date is no longer current. Just sharing our miserable experience. We have no choice but to wait…

  21. Great letter. Should be sent to the offices of congressman with eb5 oversight. Maybe a few of them will do their job

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