Some EB-5 Investors Could Soon See Quicker I-526 Petition Approvals Thanks To New Process Change
USCIS has announced a new change for processing the I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneurs. This may lead to quicker processing times and I-526 petition approvals for qualified investors from countries that have relatively fewer EB-5 program applicants.
What is the I-526 Petition? The I-526 petition is the first form immigrants fill out and file if they wish to immigrate to the US using the EB-5 investor visa program.
EB-5 Processing Changes
On March 31, 2020, USCIS plans to scrap the first-in, first-out processing approach they have been using to process the I-526 petitions and implement what they call the visa availability approach.
The visa availability approach will prioritize applicants from countries where visas are either currently available or soon to be available. This may cause delays for countries where the EB-5 visa is currently very popular. Mainland China, India and Vietnam have multi-year backlog wait times. This is because each country can only receive 7% of the total number of visas available through EB-5. For FY 2020, roughly 11,000 visas will be available, meaning each country has a visa cap of roughly 770 visas. This new visa availability processing approach may mean investors from these three countries have an even longer wait time for an available visa, as their I-526 petitions will soon no longer be processed and approved until visas are available to them.
For EB-5 investors from countries where visas are available, their petitions will be prioritized and processed faster. According to USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans. “This new approach increases fairness, allowing qualified EB-5 petitioners from traditionally underrepresented countries to have their petitions approved in a more timely fashion to receive consideration for a visa.”
Specific Countries That May See Faster I-526 Approvals:
Any country or territory that does not currently have an EB-5 visa backlog could potentially benefit from this new processing change. Countries and territories that may see faster I-526 petition approval include these near-top EB-5 countries by number use for fiscal year 2019:
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
- South Africa
Why Choose EB-5?
The United States continues to be a top destination for immigrants thanks to its strong economy, stable government, world-class universities, investment opportunities, rising real estate market, and more.
About the EB-5 Program:
The EB-5 Program allows qualified immigrant entrepreneurs who invest $900,000 in a job-creating targeted employment area (rural or high unemployment areas) project or $1.8 million in a job-creating non-targeted employment area project to become eligible to receive US permanent residency for themselves, their spouses and their unmarried children under the age of 21 years.
EB-5 investors select from two different program pathways. The first pathway is the EB-5 Direct Investment Program which allows investors to invest directly into a new commercial enterprise and gives them control over the day-to-day operations of the business. The second pathway is the Regional Center Program, which allows investors with less interest in managing the day-to-day operations of their investment the opportunity to invest in an organization, designated by USCIS, and take a more passive role in the process. Both pathways require the investor to create 10 full time jobs for US workers, but investors in the Regional Center Program benefit from easier job-creation requirements.
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