It’s been a while since a monthly Visa Bulletin from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has offered the EB-5 investment community good news of any magnitude. The three-week jump in the Chinese final action date in the June 2021 Visa Bulletin was good news, but only because the Chinese final action date hadn’t budged in close to a year before that. Under normal circumstances, a three-week move would hardly warrant celebration. The fact that predictions had assumed the Chinese final action date would not move until at least October 2021 did, however, make the advance more impressive.
The Chinese final action date moved ahead two months in the July 2021 Visa Bulletin, suggesting continued movement forward may once again become the norm for EB5 investment participants from China. However, this time, Vietnam has stolen China’s spotlight. Indeed, a two-month advancement pales in comparison to a two-year leap forward.
That’s right—two entire years. Unless the figure in the July 2021 Visa Bulletin is a typo, the final action date for EB-5 investment participants from Vietnam has sped ahead by an astonishing two years, taking the final action date from April 15, 2018, in the June 2021 Visa Bulletin to April 1, 2020, in the July 2021 bulletin. And if that weren’t enough of a shock, the chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State has more good news for Vietnamese investors: he expects Vietnam to achieve “current” status by September 2021.
July 2021 Visa Bulletin, Chart A
In Chart A of the July 2021 Visa Bulletin, “01APR20” is printed clearly in the EB-5 row of the Vietnam column. Broken down, this means April 1, 2020. To Vietnamese EB-5 investors, who have been suffering from delays and long processing waits for three years, this may seem unbelievable, but there it is, clear as day. Effectively, any Vietnamese national who made an EB-5 investment between April 2018 and April 2020 is now eligible to receive their conditional U.S. green card and begin their life in the United States—with predictions of the door soon opening for the remainder of Vietnamese investors.
The Chinese final action date has also moved ahead, this time by two months. This is a higher pace than in the June 2021 bulletin, which saw the first movement in the Chinese date for close to a year. The EB5 investment community celebrated alongside Chinese investors when the final action date finally moved, and the July 2021 bulletin indicates that forward momentum may become the new normal for Chinese investors.
The final action dates for those who have made an EB5 investment through an EB-5 regional center stand out in the July 2021 bulletin—all values are “U.” “U” stands for “unauthorized,” with USCIS taking into account the uncertain status of the program going into July. The EB-5 Regional Center Program is set to expire on June 30, 2021, unless it secures reauthorization from Congress, and many EB-5 investment stakeholders fear reauthorization will be contingent on program reform. With less than two weeks to go, reform has still failed to be enacted, and the EB-5 community is growing increasingly anxious as the sunset date nears. Industry experts note that the U.S. government is unlikely to let such a valuable program expire permanently, but a temporary suspension could be in the cards, presenting investors with unwelcome delays in their EB-5 investment journey.
July 2021 Visa Bulletin, Chart B
Unfortunately, the movement in the EB-5 final action dates has not been reflected in the dates for filing. Chinese EB-5 investment participants have built up such a massive EB-5 backlog that many have to wait just to file their application for an EB-5 visa following I-526 petition approval. The Chinese date for filing has remained at December 15, 2015, for more than a year, and though changes in the date for filing will inevitably follow final action date progress, the momentum has clearly not been sufficient yet. Chinese investors waiting to file their EB-5 visa applications must continue to sit tight.
Interestingly, the regional center values in Chart B are not “U” for unauthorized but the same as those for direct EB-5 investors. While this is probably just an administrative oversight, hopefully it indicates a continued future for the EB-5 Regional Center Program.