October 2020’s Visa Bulletin brings dismal news to EB-5 investors from China and Vietnam. Investors from the two backlogged countries must face an even longer wait for adjudication on their I-526 petitions, as the final action dates have not budged from the September 2020 Visa Bulletin. This could change dramatically in November 2020: October marks the beginning of FY2021, a year that will see far more EB-5 visas distributed than any year in the EB-5 program’s history since establishment in 1990. Each year, any unused family-based visas roll over to the EB visa category, and since the COVID-19 pandemic effectively halted immigration, a surge of unused family-based visas have been allocated to the EB-5 program in FY2021, putting the total at more than 18,500—nearly double the average annual number.
The Visa Bulletin for October 2020 is also unusual for an additional reason: when it was drafted, the EB-5 Regional Center Program had yet to be reauthorized. The Regional Center Program accounts for the vast majority of those with EB-5 investments, given that regional centers offer numerous advantages, including relaxed job-creation requirements. However, despite its popularity, it is not a permanent United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) program, meaning it’s subject to expiration and reauthorization every so often. The program had been set to expire on September 30, 2020, but was reauthorized at the last minute.
Nonetheless, since the future of the EB-5 Regional Center Program was unknown at the time of publication of the October 2020 Visa Bulletin, all columns in the EB-5 Regional Center category in Charts A and B contain “U,” standing for “unauthorized.” Since the program was indeed reauthorized, investors can assume the final action dates and dates for filing for regional center applicants are the same as those for those with direct EB5 investments.
Final Action Dates
India remains current, having finally achieved the status in July 2020. The situation for Chinese and Vietnamese EB-5 applicants is less sunny: the final action dates for both countries have not moved since September 2020. For EB-5 applicants from China, the final action date is August 15, 2015. For those from Vietnam, it is August 1, 2017. EB-5 investors stuck in the queue will have to wait for November 2020’s Visa Bulletin to see whether the huge increase in available EB-5 visas will help them advance in their EB-5 journeys.
Dates for Filing
For Chinese EB-5 investors waiting to file their application for a U.S. green card, the wait continues. The Chinese date for filing remains December 15, 2015, where it has rested for the better part of a year. However, since the massive uptick in EB-5 visas in FY2021 offers an opportunity for USCIS to reduce the Chinese backlog, those stuck waiting to file may finally see progress in the coming months.