Amidst the chaos that has rocked many facets of the EB-5 process, USCIS has seemingly taken an early Christmas vacation as thousands of I-829 petitions remain unadjudicated.
Many investors whose Form I-829 have been pending (some for more than 3 years) may notice that they have been issued a new I-797 receipt notice by USCIS. These receipt notices extend petitioners’ and their dependents’ conditional residency status for an additional 24 months following the expiration of their two-year green card. Previously, USCIS only extended conditional residency status for 18 months in this scenario.
USCIS unnecessarily issued new receipt notices to investors and dependents, where the I-829 petitions have been pending well beyond the two-year extension period, wasting precious adjudication time. These new I-829 receipt notices are no longer valid, and investors and dependents should seek I-551 passport stamps for proof of status and travel. The new receipt notices can be retained for their records. For CPRs who have just obtained I-551 stamps, whether they can use the new receipt notices as valid travel documents depends on the status of their green cards. Officers at the InfoPass appointment have the right to retain expired CPR cards when issuing the I-551 stamps. If CPR green cards were retained, CPRs should continue using the I-551 stamps as proof of permanent resident status. If the CPR card is retained by the investor or the dependent, the new receipt notices along with the expired green cards can then serve as travel document for the remaining validity of the 24-month period.
It should be added that the issuance of new I-829 receipt notices has no adverse impact on the pending petitions. This new measure initially appears to be an effort by USCIS to combat extensive back logs and processing times, however, on close scrutiny, it is more of a guise to buy time rather than a tangible method for improvement. The current processing time for I-829 petitions are at an astounding 38 to 63.5 months, or approximately 3.5 to 5.5 years.
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