Here’s how long you may have to wait for an EB-5 visa after preparing and filing your I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor.
Preparing and Filing an I-526 Petition:
Filing an I-526 petition for an EB-5 visa is the first step of the process and the amount of time this step takes varies greatly from investor to investor. EB-5 investors work with immigration attorneys to prepare and file this petition. Each EB-5 investor’s case is unique. Some investors may be able to prepare and file their I-526 petition in a matter of weeks while others may need months to conduct due diligence and gather evidence of their lawful sources of funds.
I-526 Petition Processing Times:
I-526 petitions are processed at the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO). Despite USCIS temporarily shutting down offices until at least May, 4th, many services, like the adjudication of I-526 petitions, are still being performed. USCIS has a case processing page that states that the current estimated processing time range for I-526 petitions is 31 months to 50.5 months. The estimated time range is, however, based on data captured two months prior. What do these estimated time ranges mean? USCIS states, “The first number is the time it takes to complete 50% of cases (the median). The second number is the time it takes to complete 93% of cases.”
Additionally, USCIS lists the historic national average time it takes to process the I-526 petition as 12.6 months for October 1, 2019 – January 31, 2020.
Visa Availability Approach’s Impact on I-526 Petition Processing Times:
I-526 petitions are no longer processed in the order received. As of March 31, 2020, they are processed based on visa availability. Currently, only applicants from Mainland China are affected by the change. EB-5 investors from Mainland China must use Chart B: Dates for Filing of the Visa Bulletin to determine when to submit their documentation for a visa. The Dates for Filing for Mainland China applicants in the April 2020 Visa Bulletin is December 15, 2015. Therefore, applicants with priority dates before this date may continue in the process and submit their documents to the National Visa Center for an immigrant visa.
After an I-526 Petition Approval:
Once an EB-5 investor has received I-526 Petition approval, USCIS sends the petition to the National Visa Center, who will then reach out to the applicant for more information. EB-5 investors from backlogged countries (Mainland China, India and Vietnam), however, will have to wait until their priority dates are earlier than the Final Action Dates (Chart A of the Visa Bulletin). The National Visa Center will hold these petitions and refrain from reaching out to EB-5 investors until their priority dates meet the Final Action Date cut-off dates or will soon meet the cut-off dates.
Filing an I-485 Petition or DS-260 Form:
Once an EB-5 investor receives I-526 Petition approval their immigration attorney will file their I-485 Petition to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status if they are already in the U.S. EB-5 investors living abroad may file DS-260 and continue the process through their local U.S. embassy or consulate. Processing times for the I-485 petition vary depending on the USCIS field office. EB-5 investors with pending I-485 petitions may apply for and obtain work and travel authorization.
U.S. Temporary Closes Consulates and Embassies
Due to Covid-19 (Coronavirus) U.S. consulates and embassies have been temporarily closed. EB-5 visas that may have gone to investors living in their home countries might be utilized for investors living in the U.S. and filing I-485 applications.
More Information for EB-5 Investors from Countries With Final Action Dates:
When you filed your I-526 petition, USCIS would have provided you with a priority date or receipt date of the petition. The priority date is important for EB-5 investors from backlogged countries. Currently only Mainland China, India and Vietnam have visa backlogs. This means that EB-5 investors from Mainland China, India and Vietnam must refer to Chart A: Final Action Dates of the April 2020 Visa Bulletin to determine whether or not they can schedule an interview despite having I-526 petition approval.
EB-5 Investors from All Other Countries:
All other countries are current on the visa bulletin may immediately file their documentation to the National Visa Center for an immigrant visa.
Scheduling an Interview and Receiving a Conditional Green Card:
Routine visa services were suspended on March 20, 2020; only mission-critical visa services are being performed at U.S. embassies and consulates.
EB-5 investors residing in the U.S. may have their applications processed, but interviews and biometric appointments are being rescheduled. USCIS may reopen its office to the public on May 4, unless public closures are extended.
There is no specific time-frame regarding how long it may take from the time of the interview to receiving your passport back with your immigration visa.
- New York
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