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I-829 Waiting Time: How Long Before You Get Your Permanent EB-5 Visa?

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Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residency, is the form filed by EB-5 investors to apply to have their conditional resident status lifted. Submitting it is an exciting moment—it’s the final step before obtaining your permanent Green Card!

However, it can take United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a long time to process your petition, and it’s difficult to predict how long you will have to wait. This creates uncertainty for EB-5 investors and their families. It’s therefore important to fully understand what the I-829 process involves and how the processing times work.

This article analyzes recent and historic data of processing time for Form I-829 to help you understand how long you may have to wait. We’ll also explain what you can do to give your Form I-829 the best chance of being approved quickly.

💡 I-829 processing times in short

Currently, USCIS takes around 49 months to process the median Form I-829. However, this figure varies wildly—we’ll discuss this further down in this article.

You can speed up the process by submitting your form at the right time and providing good documentary evidence that you have met EB-5 visa requirements.


What is Form I-829?

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The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program allows foreign investors to gain permanent residency in the United States by investing in the country’s economy. The initial steps are:

  1. Invest in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) in the U.S.
  2. Submit Form I-526E
  3. Leave your investment at risk for at least two years
  4. Ensure your investment generates at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens

When an EB-5 investor’s Form I-526E is approved, they are given a conditional Green Card. This gives them the right to live and work in the U.S. It also gives them the right to travel internationally and return to the U.S.

An investor’s conditional Green Card lasts for the two-year period during which their investment is at risk. Form I-829 is filed by immigrant investors 90 days before the expiration of this two-year period, assuming they’ve generated the required number of jobs.

Form I-829 is 11 pages long. It requires EB-5 investors to submit documentary proof that they have fulfilled the conditions of their visa. This includes:

✔️ Bank statements or similar documents proving that the investor invested the required amount of capital into the right company
✔️ Proof that this investment remained with the company throughout the two-year period
✔️ Proof that the investment generated 10 full-time jobs
✔️ Copies of the EB-5 investor’s conditional Green Card, and those belonging to family members
✔️ Details of any U.S. criminal convictions accrued by the investor during the two-year period
✔️ A filing fee of $3,750 and biometric services fee of $85. (The filing fee will be raised to $9,525 as of April 1, 2024.)

The EB-5 investor then sends the form to USCIS for processing. This involves USCIS confirming that the investor has met the program’s requirements. They will also check if there are any legal issues surrounding the investor’s application.

The EB-5 investor’s conditional permanent resident status gets an automatic two-year extension when they submit Form I-829. It can be extended year-by-year, until the investor’s Form I-829 is adjudicated.

Once USCIS approves the form, the investor’s visa conditions are lifted and they gain permanent resident status in the U.S.

What Is the I-829 Waiting Time?

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USCIS reports that, as of November 14, 2023, 80% of I-829 petitions were processed within 67 months—that’s approximately 5.5 years. The median processing time was 49.4 months, or 4.1 years.

At first glance, the 67-month figure may seem worrying. However, this represents the longest time taken within the fastest 80% of cases. Many cases were completed far quicker, as evidenced by the 49.4-month median. Because of this, we know that, during 2023:

  • 50% of I-829 forms were processed faster than 49.4 months.
  • 50% of I-829 forms were processed slower than 49.4 months.

In our experience, the I-829 processing time is around three years for many EB-5 investors. However, this shorter timeframe may be because the investors we work with submit comprehensive forms with strong evidence.

How many I-829 petitions get denied?

According to data from Q3, 2023, 444 I-829 petitions were approved, and 30 were denied. In our experience, the most common reasons for denial are because the investor does not—or can’t—prove that they created the required number of jobs or that they supported the business throughout the two-year period.

When can I send an inquiry?

USCIS won’t accept an inquiry about the progress of your I-829 petition until it’s significantly surpassed normal processing times. For example, if you submitted your petition on November 14, 2023, you can’t send an inquiry until September 25, 2030. Unfortunately, when the time at which inquiries are allowed is nearly 7 years away, they’re effectively discouraged.

This happened to I-526 petition processing times in 2020. The estimated processing time range for I-526 petitions nearly doubled, leaving new investors with case inquiry dates that were up to five or six years away. The entire situation was mysterious, given that statistics showed hardly any pending I-526 petitions from so long ago. Some speculated that it had been intended to quell case inquiries entirely.

What are the longest and shortest processing times?

The estimated Form I-829 processing time figure from the USCIS website isn’t very helpful. The median processing time only gives a slightly better indication of how long it’ll take. However, in the past, USCIS published more detailed data on processing times. These insights can help us understand the discrepancies between the estimated and actual processing times.

For example, below is data from Q1, 2019. It gives a breakdown of how many forms were processed within different timeframes. As you can see, the vast majority of cases were completed within 36 months. The timeframe in which the most applications were approved was 18–24 months, and some were even approved within 12–18 months. The longest processing time was 6.5 years.

Factors affecting I-829 processing times in 2023

Of course, statistics from late 2019 don’t reflect the reality in late 2023. The pandemic created backlogs in processing times. But there have also been many changes to the EB-5 Program, including the introduction of the Reform and Integrity Act of 2022. These changes have led to USCIS adopting more efficient processing practices.

I-829 processing times depend on USCIS’s productivity, and, while real-time processing data is not available, I-829 adjudication data for each quarter is available on USCIS’s Citizenship and Immigration Data page. The chart below shows trends in USCIS productivity by quarter since FY2015 Q1, revealing clear fluctuations in USCIS’s I-829 adjudication productivity over the years.

How to Speed Up Your Form I-829 Processing Time

EB-5 investors have very little control over Form I-829’s lengthy processing times. There are, however, a few things you can do to speed up the process:

File at the right time

Form I-829 should be filed within a 90-day period prior to the expiration date of your two-year conditional resident status. If you leave it until your conditional Green Card expires, your ability to gain a permanent residency card will be jeopardized. However, if you file it too early, it will be rejected.

Fill all documentation and evidence correctly

To get your I-829 form approved, you need to provide concrete evidence that your investment has created 10 full-time jobs. Any gaps in documentation or weak evidence may slow your form’s processing time or even lead to it being rejected.

Work with a regional center

Regional centers document job creation data on behalf of their investors. They can also help their investors compile the necessary evidence and documentation. Many regional centers work closely with USCIS and will know what a good I-829 petition looks like.

Make an expedited request

If your I-829 petition was submitted more than two years ago, you can request for it to be expedited. However, you need to have a specific, compelling reason. These include:

  • Severe financial loss
  • Humanitarian reasons or emergencies
  • Situations where it will benefit the United States’ cultural or social interests (this needs to be requested via a non-profit organization)
  • Cases where it’s in the interest of the United States government
  • Errors made by USCIS

I-829 Processing Times: Conclusions

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The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a great way for foreign nationals to become lawful permanent residents in the U.S. However, I-829 processing times can be frightening. A long waiting period can mean uncertainty for investors and their families. However, it’s important to remember that many Green Cards are granted within a reasonable timeframe. Some are even approved quickly.

Our advice is to make a contingency plan, just in case your I-829 petition is delayed. This avoids disappointment and ensures you have a plan in place, should there be delays.

For more information on the EB-5 process or to find help filing your I-829 petition, get in touch with EB5AN. We’ve helped hundreds of EB-5 investors to gain permanent residency status in the United States. Book a free consultation and discover how we can do the same for you.