On October 1st many U.S. Embassy and Consulates overseas, as well as the National Visa Center stopped processing EB-5 based immigrant visa petitions for regional centers due to a mistake in the October visa bulletin. The visa bulletin for October 2012 erroneously noted that immigrant visa numbers for I-526 petitions approved through the EB-5 Regional Center pilot program were unavailable. It appears that the Department of State did not know that S. 3245 was signed into law on Friday, September 28th and extended the EB-5 Regional Center program. As a result of the extension, immigrant visa numbers for regional center based immigrants should not have been listed as unavailable and interviews should still have been scheduled. However, numerous applicants were told that their applications could not be processed because visas were “unavailable.” After being notified of the error, Department of State officials confirmed that they would correct the mistake and notify consular posts that I-526 petitions should continue to be processed.
Additionally, the October visa bulletin also incorrectly described the employment-based 5th preference category. Specifically, it noted that there were two separate categories entitled: (1) 5th Targeted Employment Areas/Regional Centers” and then (2) “5th Pilot Program,” when in fact those are actually a single category. Targeted Employment Area designations that allow individuals to invest at the lower $500,000 threshold amount are applied in both the individual EB-5 category, as well as the regional center category.
EB-5 investors who experience problems in processing of their applications due to this error are encouraged to contact their legal counsel immediately.