The March 2020 Visa Bulletin has just been released, and the EB-5 Final Action Date for mainland China under Chart A jumped nearly half a year, from December 1, 2014 to May 15, 2015. Chart B also leapt forward from May 15, 2015 to December 15, 2015. If USCIS announces in 1-2 weeks that Chart B is applicable to Employment-Based Preference Filings, it will open the door for EB-5 investors who are on eligible non-immigrant status in the U.S. to obtain the red “combo card” that allows them to work and travel.
The Visa Bulletin states:
There has been a very rapid advancement of the China-mainland born fifth preference final action date for the month of March. This action has been taken in an effort to generate an increased level of demand. Despite the large amount of registered China fifth preference demand, currently there are not enough applicants who are actively pursuing final action on their case to fully utilize the amount of numbers which are expected to be available under the annual limit.
Once large numbers of applicants do begin to have their cases brought to final action, some type of corrective action may be required to control number use within the annual limit.
This quote suggests the National Visa Center has seen a dramatic decline in the rate at which eligible China EB-5 applicants are becoming documentarily qualified, lowering the demand compared with the amount of visa numbers expected to be available for use.
The EB-5 Final Action Date for India under Chart A also moved forward six weeks, from September 1, 2018 to October 22, 2018. Chart B remains current.
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus has stopped immigrant visa processing in China, and President Trump has stopped the entrance of immigrant and nonimmigrant travelers who were physically present within China during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. However, it does not appear the virus had anything to do with the determination of the March movement, although the impact on processing during February and beyond could become an issue in the future.
Additionally, the Visa Bulletin’s notice of “corrective action” suggests that retrogression will occur in the coming months. However, if the Final Action Date retrogresses before the visa had been available for one full year, any actions taken within one year of the visa becoming available that satisfy the “sought to acquire” requirement will be sufficient to lock in the applicant’s CSPA age as of the first day the visa became available during this time period.
Of course, with USCIS’ dramatic slowdown of Form I-526 processing, the advancements in the Visa Bulletin may not actually trigger more demand in the long run, especially since USCIS will be adjusting its process for managing EB-5 inventory to prioritize Form I-526s “connected to individuals from countries where visas are currently available.”