Sarah Kendall, Chief of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Office at USCIS, spoke to EB-5 stakeholders for the first time in over six months this afternoon. IPO also released a YouTube video with similar updates today. Ms. Kendall touched on the new redeployment guidance issued in July 2020, EB-5 program integrity goals, and adding derivatives to pending Form I-829 petitions. She also mentioned that USCIS is not considering premium processing for EB-5 cases. Here are three things learned from her:
- Visa Availability Approach. Kendall indicated that this “inventory management” method, which prioritizes the assignment of Form I-526 petitions for investors with an available visa or a visa that will be available soon (based on the Chart B Date for Filing listed in the monthly Visa Bulletin), has been implemented since April 1, 2020 and noted that the Questions & Answers from the prior stakeholder meeting on this topic has been updated. I-526 petition inventory workflows are based on visa availability, and whether the underlying project has been reviewed (either through an exemplar or prior I-526 adjudication). For investors with a visa available or soon available, IPO manages I-526s in a “first-in, first-out” order.
- Processing Times and Adjudication Completions. Kendall indicated there are 232 “dedicated staff” at IPO (including support staff, adjudicators, economists, Fraud Detection and National Security personnel, and other positions vital to the IPO mission) and that IPO “maximized teleworking” when the COVID-19 pandemic affected its normal business practices. She indicated the following data.
- 212 I-526s each month for the six-month period from March – August 2019
- 304 I-526 each month for the six-month period from March – August 2020
- 157 I-829s each month for the six-month period from March – August 2019
- 265 I-829s each month for the six-month period from March – August 2020
This shows an increase of productivity at IPO, something that isn’t reflected based on our firm’ experience in 2020, where we’ve seen fewer adjudications than in many years. Ms. Kendall also indicated that USCIS would no longer publish EB-5 specific quarterly data reports because it is reported in the “All Forms” data located here. The latest data reported is from FY 2020 Q2 (ending March 2020).
- Delay in Transfer of Files from USCIS to NVC. Once a Form I-526 is approved, USCIS is to transfer files to the National Visa Center so that immigrant investors and their derivative beneficiaries can continue their immigration process with the U.S. Department of State. Kendall recognized the delays of transfers in 2020, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and USCIS’ hiring freeze caused USCIS to experience “operational deficits” to transition cases to NVC, and noted that IPO is “actively working” to address this concern.
By Joseph Barnett