On August 17, 2021, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the FY2021 third quarter statistics (Q3) for all application types and petition forms, including the EB-5 statistics for Forms I-526 and I-829 from April 1, 2021, to June 30, 2021. The FY2021 Q3 EB-5 statistics data set shows how the U.S. District Court of the Northern California’s repeal of the EB-5 Modernization Rule and the expiration the Regional Center Program has impacted demand for EB-5.
I-526 Petition Statistics
I-526 Petition Receipts
The below chart on I-526 Petition Receipts shows the available numbers of received I-526 petitions as of September 2021, but the chart will likely need to be revised since USCIS has published statistics that do not properly capture the I-526 receipts at the end of June 2021.
Based on the quarterly visa statistics report published by USCIS, it received 169 I-526 filings in the third quarter of FY2021, which is a notable 72% increase from the previous quarter’s 98 I-526 filings. This figure is, however, likely inaccurate given a larger number of total reported I-526 petition receipts in June 2021, suggesting an even greater increase in petitions over the last quarter. This substantial increase in filed I-526 petitions could be attributed to the June 22, 2021, court rule that attracts EB-5 investors to take advantage of the lower investment amounts of $500,000 and $1,000,000. The uncertainty of the reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program also added to this sudden surge of I-526 filings, as most investors prefer EB-5 regional center investments.
FY2021 Q3 number of I-526 petitions is also the highest received by USCIS since the COVID-19 pandemic started in FY2020 Q2.
Again, the number of I-526 petitions given in the recent data could be understated. According to a report published by USCIS Office of Policy & Strategy, USCIS has received a total of 445 I-526 petitions in June 2021 alone. Below is the chart from this published report showing the monthly I-526 petition receipts for fiscal years 2017 to 2021 Q3.
Most of the missing I-526 receipt numbers were likely received during June 29 and June 30 but were entered into the tracking system by early July, which is outside the reporting period.
I-526 Petition Approvals & Denials
The total number of I-526 petitions adjudicated in Q3 was approximately 17.6% lower than in Q2; the number of petitions approved dropped by approximately 21.3% – from 752 in Q2 to 592 in Q3 – while the number of petitions denied increased by approximately 3.8% – from 130 to 135. The denial rate rose by approximately 3.8%, from a rate of 14.7% in Q2 to a rate of 18.6% in Q3 (discrepancy due to rounding).
USCIS processing of I-526 petitions has risen slightly – from an average of approximately 855 petitions processed per quarter in FY2020 to an average of approximately 911 petitions for the first three quarters of FY2021. This change represents an approximately 6.5% increase to the average number of I-526 petitions processed per quarter in FY2021 versus FY2020.
As of June 30, 2021, 12,798 I-526 petitions are pending, which is approximately 1.9% fewer petitions than the 13,044 pending petitions at the end of Q2. A large percentage of the pending I-526 petitions are unlikely to be processed for the time being since USCIS is not presently adjudicating any I-526 petitions affiliated with the regional center program. Therefore, most EB-5 investors with pending I-526 petitions will have to wait until Congress reauthorizes the EB-5 regional center program.
I-829 Petitions Statistics
I-829 Petition Receipts
USCIS received 1,249 I-829 petitions in FY2021 Q3. This is the highest recorded number of I-829 petitions in EB-5 program history.
I-829 Petition Approvals & Denials
As with I-526 petitions, the number of total I-829 petitions adjudicated in Q3 was approximately 25.7% lower than in Q2; the number of I-829 petitions approved decreased by approximately 29.0% – from 566 in Q2 to 402 in Q3 – while the number of petitions denied increased by 24.3% – from 37 in Q2 to 46 in Q3. The denial rate rose by approximately 4.1%, from a rate of 6.1% in Q2 to a rate of 10.3% in Q3 (discrepancy due to rounding).
USCIS processing of I-829 petitions has decreased – from an average of approximately 691 petitions processed per quarter in FY2020 to an average of approximately 578 petitions for the first three quarters of FY2021. This change represents an approximately 16.4% decrease to the average number of I-829 petitions processed per quarter in FY2021 versus FY2020.
At the end of FY2021 Q3, a total of 11,160 I-829 petitions are pending, which is about 8% higher than Q2.
Though the EB-5 regional center program has expired, EB-5 investors who received their conditional permanent residence status through regional center investments must still timely submit their I-829 petitions, which USCIS is still accepting and processing.
I-526 and I-829 Petition Trends
The number of pending I-829 petitions has been trending up since 2013 compared to pending I-526 petitions, which have come down from a peak in 2017 and have remained fairly level.
The above chart shows that even before the COVID-19 pandemic started, the number of I-526 and I-829 petitions processed annually by USCIS dropped substantially and has not recovered. The COVID-19 pandemic has likely had a continuing impact on petition processing speeds.
What to Expect in the Last Quarter of FY2021
Upcoming EB-5 visa statistics in FY2021 Q4 will be heavily influenced by three major recent events:
- The invalidation of the EB-5 Final Rule by the U.S. District Court of the Northern California on June 22, 2021, which resets the minimum EB-5 investment amount to $1,000,000 or $500,000 for projects in targeted employment areas.
- The expiration of the regional center program on June 30, 2021, which has suspended the filing and processing of all regional-center affiliated I-526 petitions.
- The appointment of the new USCIS director, Ur Jaddou, on July 30, 2021; the EB-5 industry hopes she will make positive changes to USCIS policies.