• 18 February 2020

USCIS Announces Process Change for EB-5 Applications

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an imminent change in the application process for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa.

The agency has been using a “first-in, first-out” (FIFO) approach but no longer believes that the FIFO method is consistent with the original intent of the program. Effective March 31, 2020, the program will be modified to prioritize petitions based on availability for investors by predetermined quotas for their country of birth.

EB5 visas quota and applications processing

The annual quota for EB-5 Visas is capped at 10,000. The 10,000 includes spouses and dependent children under the age of 21. The original EB-5 program limited the total number of applications from any country to seven percent of the total available visas. That is the standard to which applications will be held after March 2020.

Applications will be processed as long as the individual’s country of origin has not exceeded the allotted 700 (seven percent of 10,000).

It is too soon to understand how the change will affect applicants other than

  • Processing time for applicants from “oversubscribed” countries may likely face longer than ordinary processing times.
  • Processing time for applicants from “undersubscribed” countries are likely to be processed more quickly.

Impact on EB5 investors

Investors born in China, Vietnam, or India whose applications are in retrogression (priority date not yet current) should anticipate a protracted waiting period for processing, at least initially. Investors from those countries whose applications are current will not likely experience any extraordinary delays due to the process change.

Investors born in countries where EB-5 Visas are still within the limits of the country quota may find that their petitions will be processed much more quickly as they will, in effect, move to the front of the processing line.

In simplified terms,

  • The current method is to process whatever application is next in the queue by date of application.
  • The reinstated method is to set aside investor petitions where the quota has been met and to process investor petitions from countries when the quota has not been met. Petitioners from countries with available visas in their quota will be served on a FIFO basis.

Mark Koumans, Deputy Director of the USCIS, explained, “This new approach increases fairness, allowing qualified EB-5 petitioners from traditionally underrepresented countries to have their petitions approved in a timelier fashion to receive consideration for a visa.”

It is not yet clear what will happen to unused portions of countries that have not / will not reach their seven percent quota. More information should be forthcoming when the USCIS holds a public engagement from 11:00 until noon Eastern Time on March 13, 2020.

Please contact one of our Immigration Attorneys at the ACS Law Firm for more information. Our entire staff at American Corporate Services Law Offices, Inc., is prepared to assist you and show you how we can help to make your immigration dream come true.