While the industry saw significant delays in the publishing of the November 2020 Visa Bulletin, a closer-to-timely release of December’s bulletin indicates the State Department’s efforts to play catch-up. That said, apart from most countries in the EB-5 program maintaining current final action cut off dates, the news still isn’t as promising as the EB-5 industry had hoped.
Chart A: Final Action Dates Remain Relatively Unchanged
The December 2020 Visa Bulletin is the third bulletin issued in FY2021, and the industry has yet to see the advances anticipated following the influx of visas in the wake of a challenging 2020. Instead, Chinese EB-5 investment participants are still caught in a holding pattern as final action dates for the country remain static at August 15, 2015. EB-5 investors from Vietnam inch forward as that final action date has advanced by a mere two weeks to September 1, 2017.
Chart B: Dates for Filing EB-5 Applications Stand Static
Again this month, Chinese participants are the only EB-5 investors who haven’t seen any forward shift in application filing dates. China’s date for filing applications stands static according to Chart B in the Visa Bulletin. For affected investors, this chart reflects which foreign EB5 investment participants seeking their green cards are allowed to submit applications with the National Visa Center (NVC). It generally addresses those EB-5 investors who will apply from outside of the U.S. And for the last few months, China’s date hasn’t budged from mid-December of 2015.
EB-5 Regional Center Program Set to Expire December 11
Furthermore, the EB-5 Regional Center Program carries an expiration date of December 11, 2020. If Congress is unable to successfully reauthorize the program (or pass a temporary expenditure measure at least), immigration visas will become unavailable through the program as of 12 a.m. on that date. EB-5 investment participants who applied through regional centers and hope to continue down that path must be admitted into the U.S. before the clock strikes midnight. Note that EB5 investments outside the Regional Center Program will remain unchanged. If the program is saved, direct investment cut-off dates are expected to mirror current bulletin data.
Overall, there’s been no outpouring of extra visas issued and no influx of applications being processed…yet. This month’s Visa Bulletin brings another report on the lack of movement for the EB-5 investment category. Perhaps a wind-down period for a very different year is what United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) needs to launch refreshed and in full force into a new calendar year in 2021? Only time will tell.