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USCIS Approves Behring I-526E Petition for HUA Project in 8 months, a New Record

May 16th, 2024 Peter Bibler

We are thrilled to announce that today USCIS approved an I-526E petition in less than 8 months for one of our investors in Behring’s Legacy Fund. An 8-month processing time for HUA projects is faster than the vast majority of rural project approvals seen in recent months. This remarkable approval time underscores the ability to invest in quality High Unemployment Area (HUA) EB-5 projects while closing the so-called gap between rural and urban processing times. This I-526E approval did not involve any expedite requests or mandamus actions, making this achievement even more noteworthy. It is noteworthy that the Legacy Fund was already I-924 approved, I-956F approved and has many prior investor approvals giving rock solid precedent to any adjudicator who picks up a new Legacy Fund I-526E Petition.

A Milestone in EB-5 Processing Times for HUA Projects

Behring’s Legacy Fund continues to set benchmarks in the EB-5 investment community. The recent approval in only 8 months is not only faster than the average processing times seen in rural EB-5 projects but also raises important questions about what “priority processing” truly means. Initially, since early post-RIA adjudications in 2023, rural EB-5 projects have been perceived as having a processing advantage. But processing times have slowed of late in 2024. This recent approval puts the notion of priority processing to the test, demonstrating that HUA projects can achieve faster approvals without expedited processing.

The Significance of High Unemployment Area Projects

Investing in an HUA project offers significant benefits for both EB-5 investors and the community. These projects are designed to stimulate economic growth in regions that need it most, creating jobs and fostering development. Behring’s Legacy Fund has been at the forefront of these initiatives, providing investors with opportunities that not only meet their immigration goals but also contribute to meaningful economic impact.

EB-5 Rural Priority Processing not Showing Up in Practice. 

This swift approval brings to light the ambiguity surrounding “priority processing” for rural EB-5 projects. Congress did not define priority processing for rural EB-5 petitions in the text of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act. To date, USCIS has not provided guidance in its Policy Manual nor adopted any clear regulations defining this term, leaving many investors and stakeholders in the dark. The lack of specific guidelines creates uncertainty, making it challenging for investors to make informed decisions about their EB-5 investments – often distracted by aggressive marketing by promoters compared to looking at the fundamentals of the project and investment.

The recent approval for Behring’s Legacy Fund, a project located in a High Unemployment Area, suggests that the advantages of rural priority processing may not be as significant as previously thought. This development emphasizes the need for clear, defined regulations from USCIS to ensure transparency and predictability in the EB-5 process.

Behring recently filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking USCIS to provide records on how it is implementing priority processing in an effort to promote more transparency and increase the integrity to the EB-5 Program.

USCIS Does Not Process Petitions on a First-In, First-Out Basis

Further, although USCIS has acknowledged publicly that it does not process petitions on a first-in, first-out basis, it can be understandably aggravating to investors when USCIS seemingly bounces around in priority dates when adjudicating petitions. USCIS has adopted the “visa availability” approach to processing petitions. In other words, it will only process I-526 petitions that have visa numbers imminently available to the petitioners for their country of birth, which may entail holding off on adjudicating petitions with earlier priority dates for investors facing backlogs.

For reserved visas (rural, HUA, and infrastructure), all countries are current. Theoretically, then, USCIS should adjudicate based on priority date. In reality, given the haphazard delivery of files from the lockbox contractor to the Immigrant Investor Program Office and other external factors, petitions are often adjudicated before others.

This is why it is extremely important to have the right team by your side: choosing the right project and platform partner helps to ensure that the project documents are clear, the business plan is real and already in execution with project construction, and the job creation methodology is credible. Moreover, choosing an EB-5 lawyer that has filed thousands of EB-5 petitions and understands exactly what USCIS needs to see to process your petition and source of funds report efficiently increases the likelihood that an EB-5 investor’s petition will be approved faster.

Looking Ahead To Future Approvals

As Behring continues to lead the way with innovative and impactful EB-5 projects, we remain committed to providing our investors with the best possible opportunities. The approval of the I-526E petition in just 8 months is a testament to the quality and viability of our projects. It also reinforces the need for EB-5 investors to have a strong team supporting their petition: the Regional Center and the EB-5 lawyer. Behring thanks the KLD legal team for their support in filing an excellent I-526E petition for this investor.

Nevertheless, this approval also reinforces that there are no shortcuts to EB-5 approval. Rural projects are not inherently faster. Knowing that HUA projects can be timely and fairly processed enables EB-5 investors to focus on what matters most: choosing the right project that best meets their needs to reliably create the jobs to be eligible for the permanent green card and that will be brought to completion and successfully return the investor’s capital in full.

If you are interested to learn more about Behring’s EB-5 projects and investment options, speak to a member of our team. We will be happy to answer your questions and help you start your EB-5 journey.

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