Since the inception of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program in 1990, thousands of foreign nationals have obtained U.S. permanent resident status after making an EB-5 investment. The EB-5 program offers foreign nationals a practical way to relocate to the United States along with their families, all while benefiting U.S. businesses through much-needed EB-5 investment capital. China is the country with the greatest overall number of EB-5 investors in the program’s history. This article examines current trends in the Chinese EB-5 investment industry.
China’s EB-5 Visa Backlog
Due to the overwhelming number of Chinese foreign nationals making EB-5 investments, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been experiencing a backlog in Chinese EB-5 petitions since May 2015. As of July 2021, the backlog is still far from being cleared.
When EB-5 investors submit Form I-526, they are given a priority date, that is, the date USCIS receives the petition. EB-5 investors from countries other than China are eligible to apply for their visas as soon as their I-526 petitions are approved by USCIS. However, Chinese EB-5 investors are subject to a final action date—they must wait until this date, which is periodically pushed forward, catches up with their I-526 priority date. As a result, EB-5 investors from China may have to wait several years before they can even apply for their EB-5 visas.
The August 2021 Visa Bulletin announced that China’s final action date had advanced to November 15, 2015. Therefore, Chinese EB-5 investors who submitted their I-526 petitions after that date are not allowed to apply for their EB-5 visas as of July 2021. Since Vietnam’s EB-5 visa backlog was cleared in the August 2021 bulletin, China is the only country experiencing a backlog.
Regrettably, Chinese EB-5 investors do not only have to wait for the final action date to advance—they must also factor in USCIS’s adjudication times for their I-526 petitions. Due to generally low productivity rates, USCIS may take several years to evaluate a Chinese EB-5 investor’s Form I-526.
The Enduring Popularity of Chinese EB-5 Investments
Still, examining the history of Chinese EB-5 investments shows that they have retained their popularity despite the stagnant backlog. Thousands of Chinese foreign nationals continue to participate in the EB5 investment industry.
The demand for Chinese EB-5 visas grew significantly during the 2010s. After the relatively low number of 772 EB-5 visas for China in 2010, 2011 and 2012 saw Chinese investors receive 2,408 and 6,124 visas, respectively. This upward trend continued until 2014, when Chinese investors were issued 9,128 visas (representing 85% of the total stock of EB-5 visas). Even though the number of Chinese EB-5 visas issued each year has declined compared to 2014’s record-breaking figures, China is still the country with the most EB-5 investors. In fact, 4,327 EB-5 visas were issued to Chinese foreign nationals in 2019, which is notable considering the backlog and slow processing times.
Moreover, the future of China’s EB-5 investment industry looks bright. After almost a year of inactivity, the final action date for China finally moved ahead in the June 2021 Visa Bulletin. Afterward, the final action date continued to advance in the July and August 2021 bulletins. It may be that USCIS is finally taking steps to cut down or even clear the existing backlog. Additionally, the Biden administration may begin to scale down the trade war with China, thus increasing the chances of the backlog being cleared.
Chinese foreign nationals interested in making an EB5 investment have yet another incentive: the EB-5 Final Rule was invalidated on June 22, 2021. As of that date, EB-5 investors were once again allowed to invest at the lower amounts of $500,000 for targeted employment area (TEA) projects and $1,000,000 for non-TEA projects.
In light of these developments, now is the ideal time to make an EB-5 investment. To learn more about available EB-5 projects, interested foreign nationals can schedule a free call with EB5 Affiliate Network.