The monthly Visa Bulletins published by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicate which EB-5 investors are eligible to receive their visas. Since USCIS adjudication times are typically slow, all EB-5 investors must be willing to wait several years before receiving their coveted permanent resident status. However, certain countries with particularly high volumes of EB-5 applicants—including China, India, and Vietnam—have been subject to processing backlogs. Even though USCIS has cleared the Indian and Vietnamese backlogs, China is far from achieving “Current” status. As the October 2021 Visa Bulletin indicates, the Chinese EB-5 investment industry is still experiencing a stagnant backlog.
Chart A, “Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases”
As of the October 2021 Visa Bulletin, the final action date for China is November 22, 2015. This puts an end to the final action date’s progress in the last few months—after remaining stagnant for more than a year, the date advanced continuously between the June 2021 and September 2021 Visa Bulletins. It may be that another long period of inactivity lies ahead for Chinese EB-5 petition processing. Since Vietnam gained “Current” status in the July 2021 Visa Bulletin, China is the only country subject to a final action date.
Due to the final action date, EB-5 investors from China who filed their I-526 petitions after November 22, 2015, cannot receive conditional permanent resident status. Since China has historically been the country with the most investors, USCIS’s processing inefficiency is detrimental to the EB-5 investment industry.
The values for regional center visas are marked as “U” (unauthorized) because of the regional center program’s expiration on June 30, 2021. However, EB-5 investment stakeholders are confident that the program will be reauthorized in the near future.
Chart B, “Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications”
Chart B of the Visa Bulletin is also devoid of good news—the Chinese date for filing remains at December 15, 2015. It has not moved forward in over 12 months despite the recent progress in China’s final action date. Currently, only Chinese EB-5 investors who filed Form I-526 on or before December 15, 2015, are allowed to apply for their visas. This restriction even applies to Chinese investors whose I-526 petitions have been adjudicated and approved.
Both sections of the October 2021 Visa Bulletin show that USCIS’s processing inefficiency is one of the most critical issues in the EB5 investment industry. Hopefully, the agency will take measures to reduce its adjudication times for Form I-526; USCIS director Ur Jaddou has stated that she will work on reducing the EB-5 petition backlogs.