The Department of State (DOS) has released the Visa Bulletin for April 2022. For the EB-5 industry, this monthly publication shows which investors are eligible to apply for and receive their two-year conditional green cards after their I-526 petitions have been approved. This information only pertains to investors from oversubscribed countries with a particularly high demand for the EB-5 visa. However, investors from countries that could potentially become oversubscribed also do well to keep track of the trends presented in each Visa Bulletin.
Chart A, Final Action Dates For Employment-Based Preference Cases
The April 2022 Visa Bulletin does not reflect any changes from the previous month’s cutoff dates. All regional center investors in Chart A are still marked as “Unauthorized”, and direct (that is, “non-regional center”) investors still enjoy “Current” status. For the time being, Chinese investors who receive approval for Form I-526 can apply for and receive their two-year conditional Green Cards as soon as these are available. Chinese investors had experienced a processing backlog from 2015 until the December 2021 Visa Bulletin, but it is unclear if this nationality will enter retrogression once more in the coming months.
Chart B, Dates For Filing Of Employment-Based Visa Applications
The dates for filing only apply to Chinese investors when the country is undergoing visa retrogression, and they restrict when Chinese nationals with approved I-526 petitions can apply for their initial visas. As in Chart A, all Chinese direct investors have no date for filing, but investors in regional center-sponsored projects have a date for filing of December 15, 2015. This means that regional center investors from China with a I-526 filing date later than December 15, 2015, will not be able to apply for their visas.
A Watershed Period in the EB-5 Investment Industry
The April 2022 Visa Bulletin comes at an important time in the EB-5 program’s history: on March 15, 2022, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act was signed into law. This bill reauthorized the regional center program and made many other changes to increase the transparency and safety of EB5 investment offerings. Even though regional center investment was revalidated through 2027, this change will only be made effective starting in May 2022. As a result, the April 2022 Visa Bulletin still marks regional center investors as “Unauthorized” in Chart A. It will be intriguing to find out whether the return of regional center EB-5 visa applications will result in backlogs for countries such as China or India.