The recent diminished EB-5 demand from India is good news for Indian EB-5 applicants who have already invested in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. New information from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suggests the Indian EB-5 priority date will become current by summer 2020.
The Current Final Action Date for Indian EB-5 Investors
The recently released Visa Bulletin for April 2020 reveals a jump forward for the Indian EB-5 priority date. Now, any Indian EB-5 investors whose priority dates are earlier than January 1, 2019, are eligible to apply for their U.S. conditional permanent resident status. A recent decrease in demand has freed up more visas for Indian EB-5 applicants.
Indian Final Action Date to be Current by Summer 2020
On March 13, 2020, USCIS held a public engagement and announced the prediction that the Indian final action date would become current by summer 2020. Unless EB-5 demand in India picks back up, USCIS predicts the Indian final action date to then remain current for the foreseeable future. Applicants from countries with “current” final action dates are eligible to apply for a visa immediately upon approval of their I-526 petition.
A New Processing Approach at USCIS
The visa availability processing approach, announced in January 2020 and taking effect March 31, 2020, is a new I-526 processing method meant to replace the traditional first-in-first-out method. Instead of assigning I-526 petitions for adjudication based on their date of receipt, USCIS assigns petitions for adjudication based on whether there are immediately available visas for the respective country. USCIS uses the dates listed in “Dates for Filing” (Chart B of the Visa Bulletin) to determine the availability of visas per country. As of March 2020, Mainland China is the only country whose “date for filing” is not current.
Current I-526 Processing Time Range
Currently, USCIS estimates the processing times for I-526 petitions to be between 33 and 50 months (2.8 to 4.2 years). However, processing data from the first quarter of FY2019 have revealed that many petitions fall outside the estimated processing time range, with many being adjudicated slightly faster than expected. It is also important to note that the current processing estimates are based on data from two months prior and are thus not a 100% accurate snapshot of the current situation.
New Tax on Indian Remittances
Starting April 1, 2020, the Indian government is levying a new tax on remittances out of India. Indian EB-5 investors will be required to pay 5% of their remittance amount in taxes, which amounts to $45,000 for EB-5 investments of $900,000 or $90,000 for investments of $1.8 million (the minimum investment amount depends on the targeted unemployment area designation of the project). The new tax could push EB-5 demand in India down even further.