This week, Mr. Charles Oppenheim, Chief, Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) presented at the IIUSA EB-5 Industry Forum. Mr. Oppenheim’s presentation provided important information regarding the latest EB-5 data and estimates for future processing times.
1. Predictions for Future Final Action Dates. Oppenheim predicted the following Final Action Dates for EB-5. It is important to note that in the past Mr. Oppenheim has had to recalibrate estimates later in the year based on unforeseen variables impacting visa demand or usage:
- December 2019: November 15, 2014
- Best Case Scenario for October 2020: March 8, 2015
- Worst Case Scenario for October 2020: February 15, 2015
- December 2019: December 1, 2016
- Best Case Scenario for October 2020: June 1, 2017
- Worst Case Scenario for October 2020: April 1, 2017
- December 2019: January 1, 2018
- Best Case Scenario for October 2020: Current
- Worst Case Scenario for October 2020: November 2017
All Other Countries
- Will remain current for the foreseeable future
2. Potential “Rough” Visa Wait Time for EB-5 Investors, if I-526 Filed on October 29, 2019. The wait time estimate is the number of years between the time when an I-526 petition was filed and the time when an EB-5 visa is available, including the processing time for adjudicating the I-526 petition. USCIS petition processing times vary from a few months to a few years. These estimates are “rough” and cannot encompass all the variables, such as dissipation from petition revocations, deaths, age outs, withdrawals, and many other factors; nor does it include possible increases from family “acquired” before visa issuance, possible legislative, regulatory, judicial or other governmental action that might increase available numbers. But, they do provide a glimpse into the issue of demand versus the annual per-country limit impacting visa availability. However, these estimates do not apply to EB-5 applicants whose I-526 petition was filed before October 29, 2019.
- China (estimate based on 3,000 visas per year): about 16.2 years
- Vietnam (700 visas per year): about 7.1 years
- India (700 visas per year): about 6.7 years
- South Korea (700 visas per year): about 3.0 years
- Taiwan (700 visas per year): about 1.9 years
- Brazil (700 visas per year): about 1.4 years
Mr. Oppenheim mentioned that these times might be considered the “worst case,” and a “wait” only comes into play if a Final Action Date is being applied to a country at that time. Otherwise, numbers are immediately available (no wait) to all eligible applicants who are ready to proceed with final action on their case (i.e., petition approved, and provided all required information is sent to NVC, etc. such that they are “documentarily qualified” for a final interview at a Consulate or Embassy abroad).
EB-5 investors are right to be concerned about visa waiting lines, which increase both the risk of one’s investment and the risk of family separation. Confusion over the detailed aspects of this technical area of U.S. immigration law is common. Numerous variables influence the length of EB-5 visa waiting lines, and caution should be given before making any decisions that affect an EB-5 investor family.
3. Still Opportunity for India EB-5. While Mr. Oppenheim estimates the Indian EB-5 wait line at 6.7 years, this is a significant decrease from the estimate of 8.4 years he gave in May 2019. The shorter estimated wait time is welcome news as many Indian EB-5 applicants are also stuck in the much longer EB-2 and EB-3 waiting lines through employer sponsorship, making EB-5 a viable solution for those who qualify.