The USCIS Citizenship & Immigration Data page recently released performance reports (performance data) for FY2021 Q1 (October to December 2020), with data for permanent residency through Investment in the USA (EB-5) form receipts and adjudications. The published updates provide a prospective glimpse into the future regarding EB-5 immigrant investor program form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur processing.
In general, we cannot consider the numbers for the period between October 2020 to December 2020 typical or necessarily analytical for future EB-5 Regional Center Program performance. We are not sure that we can forecast the current or future trends until we obtain a feedback from new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) management, and begin to observe performance data for the current year. Also, we noticed that for the first time, the all-forms performance report adds columns for total processed petitions, and processing times.
I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor
• I-526 petitions filings unknown for FY 2021 Q1. USCIS has not published the number of forms received for I-526 petitions. This show that the USCIS struggles to count inventory, even after taking over three months to create the report. The report gives a letter “D” in place of I-526 receipts. The report code explains that “D” means “Data withheld to protect applicant’s privacy.” Another definition could be “Data withheld to disguise our counting errors.”
• 1,123 I-526 petitions processed almost identical to the 1,140 processed in FY 2020 Q4. That being said, I-526 processing mirrored the previous quarter.
• 1,004 I-526 petitions have been approved with 89% approval rates. That was a marked improvement from the FY 2020 Q4 approval rate of 79%.
• 119 I-526 petitions have been denied with 11% refusal rates.
For the past couple of months, Quebec Investment Consultation and Management Services LLC (QICMS) has been receiving approvals for Forms I-526 filed in Q1 of FY 2019 (October to December 2018). 2,386 Forms I-526 were filed the rest of that fiscal year, before 4,264 new cases were submitted in Q1 of FY 2020 (October-December 2019) in anticipation of the EB-5 Program Modernization Rule becoming effective and the minimum investment amount increasing to $900,000. At this rate, the remaining cases filed in FY 2019 could be adjudicated by September 2021.
I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status
• 682 I-829 petitions processed (the application to remove conditions for permanent residency). The previous three quarters saw 794, 748, and 787 petitions processed, respectively.
• 641 I-829 petitions have been approved with 94% approval rates.
• 41 I-829 petitions have been denied with 6% refusal rates.
• Hypothetically, I-829 petitions filings to remove conditions should be quite steady, reflecting the steady speed of EB-5 visa issuance two years previously.
• USCIS struggled in 2020 to issue I-829 petitions receipt notices, with multiple I-829 applicants reporting severe delays just to get the I-797C notice. That could explain low recorded receipt numbers (205) even if I-829 petitions submissions were in fact as high as ever.
What can we anticipate for EB-5 visa program processing for the rest of 2021?
2021 is not a typical year for almost any business or program because of the Covid -19, but EB-5 visa program has a number of other factors at play that will control processing as we move through the year: a program expiry date of June 30, 2021; a new more immigration-friendly Biden administration; and managing COVID-19.
Between Q3 and Q4 2020, IPO had exhibited an encouraging 16% increase in number of forms processed (I-526 plus I-829). Q1 FY2021 regressed again, with 7% fewer forms processed than the previous quarter.
We warmly trust that future FY2021 reports will demonstrate the positive effect of new leadership at IPO. IPO has so much room for efficiency improvement, bearing in mind that they used to regularly process three times more forms with fewer staff than they have today.
Could EB-5 green cards be processed in 2 Years without expedites?
As we mentioned above, we cannot consider the numbers for the period between October 2020 to December 2020 typical or necessarily analytical for future EB-5 Regional Center Program performance. However, based on the present slow rate of new petition filing and provided USCIS maintains it current policy of putting backlogged petitions (currently only China and Vietnam) at the back of the adjudication line, we may expect that conditional green card processing in 2022 and beyond, may take only about 24 months or so. At this rate, all the outstanding pending cases could be adjudicated within the next 36 months.
Will I-526 EB-5 petition processing dramatically improves in near future?
The reality is obvious. The number of new EB-5 case filings has dropped severely since USCIS increased the minimum investment amount to $900,000 last November. Consequently, it is sensible to calculate approximately that immigrant investors who submit a Form I-526 in the next 12-24 months could be looking at processing times of as little as 24 months for their conditional green cards, provided the investor immigrant is not from a country that is backlogged and has exceeded its per country quota. While China and Vietnam are the only two backlogged countries presently, it is expected that India may also retrogress at some point in the near future.
Quebec Investment Consultation and Management Services LLC (QICMS) will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide any new information as it becomes available.
QICMS provides valuable opportunities for foreign investors and their families members to obtain permanent U.S. residency (Green Card) through the EB-5 Program.
Interested in moving to the U.S.? Our firm will help you find a legitimate Regional Center to maximize your probability of success through the EB-5 program. We will guide you every step of the application process, straight through to obtaining your unconditional permanent residence. Contact us today.
For more information on the EB-5 program and its eligibility requirements, please click here.
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