On March 18, 2020, USCIS temporarily suspended all its in-person services at their field offices in an effort to help slow the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Here’s what that means for your EB-5 application.
USCIS has stated that its staff will continue to perform work that does not involve direct contact with the public. The Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) doesn’t interact with the public and will continue to adjudicate forms I-526 and I-829.
Current I-526 and I-829 processing times:
I-526 Petition: 31 months – 51.5 months
I-829 Petition: 22 months – 48.5 months
Additionally, I-485 petitions will also continue to be processed.
Appointments to be rescheduled
EB-5 petitioners with upcoming biometric appointments may receive rescheduling notices with instructions. USCIS services may resume, at the earliest, on April 7th, unless public closures are extended. USCIS also requests that any individual who feels sick, regardless of whether or not they were exposed to Covid-19, to not come in to their appointment and to reschedule.
A few announcements from USCIS that EB-5 investors should be aware of:
USCIS has announced that they will temporarily accept electronically produced signatures: “For forms that require an original “wet” signature, per form instructions, USCIS will accept electronically reproduced original signatures for the duration of the National Emergency.” USCIS may still request original documents.
They also announced flexibility for Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID): “For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020, any responses submitted within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set forth in the RFE or NOID will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken.”
Consulate and embassy closures and the affect on EB-5 Visas
U.S. consulates and embassies have suspended routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services as of March 20, 2020, but they will still provide emergency and mission critical visa services. What does this mean for EB-5 investors? Overseas EB-5 investors will have to wait until U.S. consulates and embassies reopen in order to claim visas. EB-5 investors already residing in the U.S can continue in the process and file their I-485 Petition to adjust status. Depending on how long the U.S. consulates and embassies stay closed, visas that would have been issued to investors overseas may be allocated to investors in the U.S.
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