On August 23rd, 2014, the U.S. Department of State made an announcement that as of that same date, immigrant visa numbers for Chinese nationals in the EB-5 category will become unavailable through September 30, 2014 which will mark the end of Fiscal Year 2014 (FY 2014). In line with the predictions made earlier in the year by the State Department, the maximum allowed number of immigrant visa has been used by the Chinese nationals in this category.
What are immigrant visa numbers?
A specific number of immigrant (permanent) visa numbers are allotted per fiscal year in each immigrant visa category, such as EB-5, for groups of nationals of various regions around the world, such as China. Immigrant visa numbers allow for a grant of conditional permanent residence to individuals applying for immigrant visas abroad or for adjustment of status in the U.S. based on their approved I-526 petitions.
What this means for immigrant visa applicants at U.S. consular posts:
For those investors and family members applying for their immigrant visas abroad whose immigrant visa appointment has been scheduled, the immigrant visa numbers for them have already been reserved. Because of that, these individuals will remain unaffected by this announcement. The cases of those investors and accompanying family members whose immigrant visa applications have not yet been scheduled for an interview by a U.S. Consular posts will not be processed and scheduled for an interview until immigrant visa numbers become available in the new fiscal year (FY 2015) which will begin on October 1, 2014.
What this means for adjustment of status applicants in the U.S.:
The U.S. Immigration Service will continue to accept applications for adjustment of status based on approved I-526 petitions. However, instead of processing them right away, the Immigration Service will instead continue their pendency until the immigrant visa numbers become once again available in the new fiscal year (FY 2015) which will begin on October 1, 2014.
Why did the U.S. Department of State make the decision to make immigrant visa numbers unavailable for Chinese nationals in this category?
As predicted earlier in the year by the U.S. Department of State, the portion of the approximately 10,000 of total immigrant visa numbers in the EB-5 visa category which is allotted to the Chinese nationals for this fiscal year has been used. Because this was the entirety of the immigrant visa numbers available for Chinese nationals in this category until the end of this fiscal year, new immigrant visa numbers will not become available until the beginning of the next fiscal year on October 1, 2014.
In doing this, the U.S. State Department is working to manage the availability of immigrant visa numbers to applicants in the upcoming fiscal year. As FY 2015 begins in just over one month, this unavailability is not expected to last long.
Will this affect the adjudication of I-526 petitions?
This development will have no affect on the adjudication of I-526 petitions by U.S. Immigration Service. This process will continue in line with the current processing times.
Please contact your GT attorney with any questions regarding this announcement by the U.S. Department of State.