EB-5 I-526 Processing Times Rapidly Accelerating: 6 Month Estimate for Todays Filings

March 20th, 2019 Colin Behring

That’s right, our internal estimate is an I-526 petition filed today will take around 6 months for USCIS approval.  Here are the simple reasons why:

  1. The number of I-526 petitions processed by USCIS skyrocketed;
  2. The number of I-526 investor petitions submitted are plummeting;
  3. Project petition quality has increased as the industry consolidates to only the highest quality regional centers with deep experience in preparing quality filings
  4. The quality of investor petitions being adjudicated today are expected to be far superior than those that caused the massive backlog from 2015 and 2016.

Items 1 and 2 can be verified simply through USCIS own data. Please view the following chart:

EB-5 I-526 petition statistics by year


Full Year 2018 vs 2017 Data (Respectively):

  • I-526 Receipts: 6,424 vs 12,165 (Decrease of 47.2%)
  • I-526 Backlog: 14,394 vs 24,992 (Decrease of 42.4%)
  • I-526 Adjudications: 15,122 vs 12,243 (Increase of 23%)

If processing were to continue its current trends, USCIS would churn through the entire backlog within the next year and be completely caught up. Essentially, today’s investor will get their petition picked up by USCIS almost in real time.  The results are clear, skyrocketing amounts of adjudicated I-526 petitions while I-526 filings is plummeting means that the backlog of pending receipts is disappearing. This ultimately results in processing times coming down significantly… NATURALLY. No expedited processing needed.


USCIS just killed EB-5 expedited processing, naturally


What about the USCIS website and its stated processing times, is it accurate?

The website shows anywhere from 22-27 months for adjudication. The USCIS is not motivated to over promise on adjudication. It just invites inquiry, more “canned” email responses and benefits nobody. A better indication of real processing times is a historical precedent of “actual” adjudications. Talking to prominent attorneys who handle a significant of USCIS annual volume of cases, we know that adjudication for projects with exemplar approval may take 8-10 months. Projects with no exemplar approval may take 12 months.  The conclusion is that USCIS will be very slow to want to move the posted processing times downward unless they feel there is very little risk in doing so.


What does this mean for Investors who had Children with age-out Risks?

If the investor is not subject to retrogression, it is probably a good thing. If the investor was born in a country that has retrogression, it’s a challenge. When you are subject to retrogression, your I-526 approval doesn’t mean much outside of simply knowing you were approved. Investors are not able to adjust your status (file I-485 or consular processing) until their priority date is current //link to other blog//. It’s in fact a mixed blessing to have processing times speed up. Those investors who had age-out risks actually hope for a slower adjudication time so they can try to burn off retrogression while their children’s ages are “Frozen” throughout I-526 adjudication.


Conclusion: Expect Processing Times to Expedite Themselves, Naturally.

With the amount of I-526 petitions filed plummeting, USCIS adjudication volumes skyrocketing and the current backlog amounting to less than 1 year of 2018 adjudication volume, it is all but certain that USCIS will speed up delivery of their I-526 approvals.

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