Update to Visa Availability Approach for Form I-526

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Update to Visa Availability Approach for Form I-526


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) this month announced it would update its visa availability approach for managing the inventory of Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, to promote greater efficiency.

In their announcement of the change of policy, USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) mentioned that they would update their approach by grouping petitions with filing dates on or before Nov. 30, 2019, by new commercial enterprise (NCE) within the queue of petitions where they have reviewed the project with an available or soon to be an available visa. They believe, and we agree, this approach should enable USCIS to gain greater processing efficiencies and reduce backlogs. They added that assigning multiple petitions associated with the same new commercial enterprise to the same adjudicator(s) should allow adjudicators to process them more efficiently.

EB5 Investors.com Senior Editor Marta Lillo reported this as a piece of long-awaited and welcome news in her article USCIS unveils new I-526 form processing criteria for faster EB-5 adjudication.

There will be three queues. The first one, and arguably the slowest one to adjudicate, will be the one where a visa is not yet and not soon to be available and is ordered first-in, first out. The second queue will contain petitions related to projects that IPO has not previously reviewed and have a visa immediately or soon to be available.

For our discussion purposes in this article, we want to focus on the third queue affecting most clients. This queue will contain Form I-526 petitions having an available or soon-to-be-available visa and either a reviewed or a “non-pooled” (single investor) standalone project. They will organize this queue by receipt date of the Form I-526 petition (from oldest to newest) and assign officers for adjudication accordingly on a first-in, first-out order. They will also divide these petitions by NCE using a first-in, first-out (FIFO) methodology, namely, by the date of the earliest filed petition for each NCE. Given the volume of petitions filed immediately before the EB-5 modernization rule took effect in November 2019 and because the project documents are often the same, assigning multiple petitions associated with the same NCE to the same adjudicator(s) will enable IPO to gain greater processing efficiencies, reduce the backlog and Form I-526 completion times, and support consistency and accuracy in adjudications, while maintaining fairness given the closeness in the filing dates of these petitions.

In her above blog, Marta Lillo reported that before this update, the IPO managed these petitions using the traditional FIFO approach, organizing them according to their receipt date, with the oldest adjudicated first. In her article, she quoted immigration attorney and managing partner at WR Immigration, Bernard Wolfsdorf, saying, “The [USCIS] decision is a giant leap forward for the EB-5 program. The biggest problem with EB-5 processing is the delay in adjudicating petitions because it causes more investor frustration than any other issue.”

We at America EB5 Visa also applaud IPO for taking this giant step. We have been very public with comments that the unprecedented long processing times experienced in the last few years have resulted in many disappointed and frustrated EB5 investors. Therefore, we and many others, such as Greenberg Traurig in their EB5 Insights blog and IIUSA, who have reported this policy change as a positive development, are happy and hopeful for the future of EB5.

If you want to find out more about the IPO update to visa availability approach for Form I-526 or how to invest in the EB-5 program, please do not hesitate to call us at + 1 917 355 9251 or write to us at info@americaeb5visa.com.

Posted by americaeb5visa on July 30, 2023