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Why Aren’t All I-526 Petitions Adjudicated in the Same Time Frame?

It can be frustrating for EB-5 investors to wait a long time for their I-526 petition to be adjudicated, especially when they see other investors around them receiving adjudication. Since the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is complicated, every petition is different and therefore requires a different process and timeline for adjudication. This can result in some EB-5 investors waiting far longer than others, even if they have invested in the same EB-5 project.

There are several reasons why one EB-5 investor’s I-526 petition may take longer to adjudicate than another’s. Some are within the investor’s control, although some are not.

Adjudicator Differences

Just as all EB-5 investors are different, so too are all EB-5 adjudicators different. Different adjudicators may use different processes and have different timelines for adjudicating I-526 petitions.

Complicated Sources of Funds

All EB-5 investors are required to document the lawful sources of their $1.8 million or $900,000 in EB-5 capital. The capital can come from many different sources, from investments, to business income, to donations from family, but in all cases, the EB-5 investor must document that the funds are legal. Some sources are more complicated than others, which can increase the processing time for an I-526 petition.

Country Backlogs

At the end of March 2020, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented a new processing approach for I-526 petitions. Unlike the previous first-in-first-out method, the new approach prioritizes petitions for adjudication based on the immediate availability of visas for the applicant’s country. Chinese EB-5 investors, who, as of May 2020, are the only investors affected by the switch, may experience longer wait times due to the new regulation.

Petition Errors

If an I-526 petition contains errors or insufficient information, it will naturally take longer to adjudicate. Investors who fall into this category may receive a request for evidence (RFE) or notice of intent to deny (NOID), and in the worst-case scenario, their I-526 petition may just be denied.

How to Reduce the Likelihood of Processing Delays

Any EB-5 investor could face processing delays, but there are steps investors can take to reduce the likelihood. Here are three simple tips to help EB-5 investors accelerate their I-526 adjudication process.

  • Work with an EB-5 immigration attorney to figure out the best funds to use as EB-5 capital.
  • If you are from a country subject to backlogs but your spouse is not, list your spouse as the principal investor. This way, your entire family can be processed under your spouse’s country, potentially speeding up your journey to an EB-5 green card.
  • Carefully review your I-526 petition for mistakes and omissions before you submit it. Have your immigration attorney look it over as well. It’s worth it to take the time to sort out minor issues that could result in major delays.

There’s no surefire way to avoid I-526 processing delays, but these tips can help many investors. The EB-5 program remains one of the fastest and easiest ways to immigrate permanently to the United States.