USCIS has completed its online presentation of FY2017 data for I-526 and I-829 petitions with the recent addition of Q4 data.
Fortunately, the USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) managed to reduce its backload of I-526 and I-829 petitions by processing more than it received during the 2017 fiscal year. This is the first time it has been able to do this since 2009, and continuing this pattern will hopefully reduce future petition processing times.
Overall, the number of I-526 forms received during the 2017 fiscal year decreased by 14% from the 2016 number, and the number of successfully processed forms increased by 31%. Similarly, 24% fewer I-829 forms were received, and 42% more were adjudicated. Despite the positive changes, the high number of I-526 forms received in 2017 combined with the number of still-pending petitions will take years to process with the current annual immigrant visa issuance limit of 10,000.
The trend over the four quarters of the 2017 fiscal year is similar to trends of previous years: sudden influxes of petitions correspond with sunset dates for regional center programs.
Despite the continued low rate of denial for I-829 petitions, it appears that fewer people with existing conditional permanent residence are filing the necessary paperwork to finalize the EB-5 process; somewhat unexpectedly, the number of I-829 petitions submitted during 2017 consistently fell each quarter.
While I-526 processing has continuously improved for several years, I-829 processing has not, making its improvement in 2017 much more impressive. In addition, I-829 processing in 2017 consistently improved as the year progressed, which differs from the less predictable quarter-to-quarter trend of I-526 processing.
The expectation is that processing times will continue to improve during the next fiscal year, adhering to the trend of the past five years. IPO is in the process of adding to its staff in its efforts to continue reducing those times.
The updated data report also displays corrected numbers for previous years and quarters, indicating recent improvement in USCIS’s ability to maintain accurate records. However, it is interesting to note that there does still appear to be some discrepancy between the sum of the reported still-pending petitions and processed petitions and the reported number of petitions received, i.e., some petitions appear to be unaccounted for.