The U.S. State Department (the “State Department”) issued good news for Chinese EB-5 investors today. The October 2014 Visa Bulletin reflected the EB-5 visa is current for mainland-born Chinese EB-5 investors. As we noted in August, the State Department made an announcement that as of August 23, 2014, EB-5 immigrant visa numbers for Chinese nationals in the EB-5 category would be unavailable through September 30, 2014. This is consistent with our prediction that new EB-5 immigrant visa numbers would become available at the beginning of the government’s next fiscal year on October 1, 2014.
However, I-526 Petition processing times may continue to increase as the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IIPO) in Washington D.C. continues to hire and train staff and the number of I-526 Petitions being filed has drastically increased. Slow processing times of I-526 Petitions may relieve the demand for EB-5 visas. After the first three quarters of the 2014 Fiscal Year, USCIS has 10,375 I-526 Petitions pending. This is an increase from 7,131 I-526 Petitions pending with USCIS at the close of the 2013 Fiscal Year.
Despite the increase in filed I-526 Petitions and the recent EB-5 immigrant visa retrogression, EB-5 investors should continue to file I-526 Petitions as soon as possible because these developments have no effect on the adjudication of I-526 Petitions. Furthermore, if the EB-5 immigrant visa category retrogresses for mainland-Chinese born EB-5 investors, the State Department will create a waiting list based on the date an I-526 Petition was filed. Accordingly, EB-5 investors who have filed their I-526 Petitions prior to other EB-5 investors will be closer to the front of the EB-5 immigrant visa line.