The March 2021 Visa Bulletin is now available through the U.S. Department of State (DoS) website, and news for the EB-5 community as we wrap up the second quarter of FY2021 remains relatively unchanged. The DoS publishes the Visa Bulletin monthly so that petitioners can remain informed on the status of visa availability. Despite hopes of a more productive year than the last, we still see zero movement on Chinese EB-5 backlogs, and Vietnam dates merely inch forward.
Again, investors hoping to gain access to U.S. permanent residency status through this residency-by-investment program have been left with little information. Most disheartening is that the agency has yet to even devise an actionable plan to take full advantage of the thousands of extra EB-5 visas allocated to the program for FY2021. Backlogged investors can only watch the time being squandered as they linger in their respective lines. Nearly halfway through the fiscal year, it seems the loss of the opportunity to reduce long-standing Chinese and Vietnamese EB-5 backlogs is eminent.
Moreover, just a few weeks into the new administration’s more concerted efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, new, more contagious strains of the virus continue to develop, and as we approach the sunset date of June 30, 2021, for the EB-5 Regional Center Program, there is an even greater risk for the program’s termination. While industry leaders rally stakeholders to join forces in EB-5 reform, little else is on the horizon to change the current status of the program. EB-5 investors should continue to prepare for the possibility of another stagnant year at best.
We have some good news: All EB-5 investors outside of China and Vietnam have maintained their “current” status on their final action dates, including India, whose status became “current” in July 2020. Unfortunately, the outlook remains unchanged for EB-5 investment participants from China and Vietnam. The final action date for China has remained fixed at August 15, 2015, since the publication of the August 2020 bulletin. Wait times actually continue to increase for Chinese investors as they enter month eight of inaction on that final action date.
Furthermore, the date for filing on Chinese petitions hasn’t changed either, holding steady at December 15, 2015, for a year now. Vietnam shows a little more progress than that as it inches forward another two weeks from the February 2021 bulletin.
Industry experts are still baffled about why the increase in EB-5 visas allocated for the year hasn’t improved these backlog issues at all. There wasn’t much hope at the publishing of February’s bulletin, and unfortunately, USCIS’s song remains the same for another month. If anything, recent history has proven that circumstances can change at a moment’s notice, but right now, there aren’t any visible signs of a shift for the better.