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Visa Bulletin for May 2021: Vietnam Starts to Move Ahead

Wondering what the final action dates and dates for filing are for backlogged EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program participants in May 2021? The U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs has released the Visa Bulletin for May 2021. While Chinese nationals involved in an EB-5 investment should prepare for another month of disappointment, Vietnamese EB-5 investors can rejoice in the continued movement in their final action date.

What Are the Final Action Dates in May 2021?

In May 2021, the final action date for Chinese EB5 investment participants has failed to budge, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Chinese final action date has remained at August 15, 2015, since the September 2020 Visa Bulletin, and chances are it will remain there for the rest of FY2021, according to remarks by Charles Oppenheim, chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State. China, which has long led the world in EB-5 demand, has suffered a long-standing backlog that first materialized in 2014, and Chinese EB-5 investors should expect significant wait times for an EB-5 investment visa.

While the outlook for backlogged Chinese EB-5 investors is currently bleak, better news could be on the horizon. With both the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act and the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 on the table, massive changes could be coming to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that speed up the adjudication times of Chinese EB-5 petitions. The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 even proposes to remove the country cap on U.S. visas, removing the disadvantage of Chinese nationality.

Vietnam is the only other country with an EB-5 backlog as of May 2021, but unlike their Chinese counterparts, Vietnamese EB-5 investors are seeing progress in their final action date. In the May 2021 Visa Bulletin, the Vietnamese final action date lies at February 15, 2018, representing a two-month jump from the April 2021 bulletin. The final action date in the April 2021 Visa Bulletin was, in turn, a seven-week leap from the previous month. If this trend continues, Vietnamese EB-5 investment participants may see their country hurtling toward “current” status, just as Indian investors did in July 2020.

What Are the Dates for Filing?

In the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, Chinese nationals are the only ones to have ever been subject to a date for filing backlog. What that means is not only do they have to wait to receive their EB-5 visa following the approval of their I-526 petition, but they also have to wait just to file their application for the visa after receiving I-526 approval. As of May 2021, the date for filing for Chinese EB5 investment participants stands at December 15, 2015, just as it has for more than a year. The date for filing isn’t likely to move before the final action date does, so it’s likely that USCIS won’t be seeing any new applications for EB-5 visas from Chinese nationals for the remainder of FY2021.