On May 2, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Policy Alert regarding an update made to the USCIS Policy Manual related to the documentation for conditional permanent resident (CPR) status provided by USCIS to immigrant investors with pending I-829 petitions. Every EB-5 investor with CPR status must file an I-829 petition to remove conditions by filing a Form I-829 petition within 90 days of the expiration of the two-year CPR status. USCIS then issues receipt notices to each EB-5 investor and dependent family member upon receiving the properly filed I-829 petition. The I-829 receipt notices evidence continuing CPR status (including travel and employment authorization) for an additional year after the expiration of the CPR card until the I-829 petition is adjudication or an order or removal becomes final. The Policy Alert explains that the original guidance which was previously found in Chapter 25.2 of the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) and not yet published in the USCIS Policy Manual, is now reaffirmed in Volume 6, Part G of the Policy Manual.
As mentioned previously in our blog, USCIS has experienced extreme delays in issuing I-829 receipt notices due to a recent system conversion at USCIS offices. The notices can take over 90 days to be processed and delivered. EB-5 investors should take this into consideration when preparing to file their I-829 petitions. For those individuals with expired CPR status looking to travel abroad, the original I-829 receipt notice and expired CPR card must be presented to the Customs and Border Patrol officer in order to gain reentry to the United States. Therefore, planning in advance to file the I-829 petition as soon as the 90 day filing window opens, being present in the United States before CPR status expires until the receipt notice is received, and scheduling trips abroad only after receiving the I-829 receipt notice are some of the important steps to consider for EB-5 investors and dependent family members given the lengthy delays at USCIS. It is also important to note that the EB-5 investor and dependent family members are also required to obtain biometrics at an Application Service Center (ASC) prior to the adjudication of the I-829 petition. The ASC appointment notices are typically issued by USCIS after I-829 receipt notices are issued, and as a result of the system delays, ASC appointment notices are also delayed for 90 days or more.
Furthermore, if the I-829 petition is not adjudicated within the one year of validity of the receipt notice (which it will not, most likely, due to lengthy processing times at USCIS), the EB-5 investor and derivative members will need to obtain I-551 stamps in their passports for further evidence of continuing CPR status past the expiration date of the receipt notice. An appointment to obtain an I-551 stamp can be scheduled at a local USCIS field office by visiting the USCIS InfoPass website. It may even be the case that the I-829 petition is still not adjudicated within the validity of the I-551 stamp, and the EB-5 investor and derivative family members will need to obtain a second I-551 stamp until the I-829 petition is approved or a final order of removal is issued.