While the mechanics of visa retrogression on a per-country basis are complex, the reality is that there are only 10,000 visas available in the EB-5 category each USCIS fiscal year. Since an average of approximately two family members apply alongside each investor, USCIS can approve 3,300 EB-5 visas each fiscal year.
However, as of May 2019, around13,500 I-526 petitions 500I-526 petitionsare pending with USCIS. Therefore, it is likely that the current fiscal year’s visas will be exhausted by investors whose petitions are currently pending, and investors submitting I-526 petitions this year could face delays of over 12 months. In fact, predicted wait times each extend to several years for countries facing higher demand.
Given this change, the market standard escrow release terms for EB-5 projects are changing to allow for earlier release of investor capital before I-526 approval. This is simply a matter of timing and realistic waiting time for EB-5 projects, of which the vast majority cannot deal with funding uncertainty in the 12- to 24-month range.