Free EB-5 Project Evaluation

How Long Should EB-5 Investors Expect to Wait Until I-526 Approval?

The EB-5 visa program is anything but fast. Given its growing popularity, backlogs for popular EB-5 countries like China, India, and Vietnam have steadily grown over the years, with countries like South Korea and Taiwan starting to catch up.

The waiting process begins even before I-526 approval, as it has typically taken around two years for USCIS to process an I-526 petition. These times have been growing recently, climbing to a range of 32 to 49 months (2.7 to 4 years) in February 2020. This growth trend has continued into March 2020, with USCIS updating the processing times to a range of 33 to 50 months (2.8 to 4.2 years).

In conjunction with the updated wait times, USCIS also provides the priority date for case inquiries. EB-5 investors with a priority date on or before the specified date are eligible to launch a case inquiry into their abnormally long I-526 processing times. As of March 3, 2020, it is January 13, 2016, but it is constantly subject to change.

Upcoming Changes to the I-526 Processing Approach

March 2020 is the final month of USCIS’s traditional first-in-first-out processing method for I-526 petitions. Starting March 31, 2020, USCIS will switch to a new visa availability approach, processing I-526 petitions based on the availability of visas for the applicant’s country. USCIS uses the dates in Chart B of the monthly Visa Bulletin to determine adjudication assignment decisions, which means that EB-5 applications from investors in underrepresented countries, such as Canada, the UK, and Japan, will be prioritized, while applications from Chinese investors will be delayed, subjecting these investors to even longer wait times. Keep an eye open for USCIS’s April 2020 I-526 processing times update, as the new system could spell major changes.