USCIS has published a new set of data covering statistics for petitions processed in fiscal Q4 2023 – covering the period from July 1st to Sept 30th, 2023 (Report Q4 2023).

EB-5 program | I-526  Processing time update – Jan 2024

With this new set of data, the review of which you may see in our article prepared for IMI daily, wе are pleased to be able to prepare a new update on processing times for the I-526 petition.

To start with, let’s check what the official page of USCIS has to say about processing times for applicants from all countries except China.

Processing time for I-526 | Immigrant petition by Standalone Investor based on how well the USCIS office has done in the past (includes the COVID-19 period plus nine months when the program wasn’t running from June 2021 to March 2022):

  • China – 86 (an increase of 1.5 months since our last update in September)
  • All other countries – 56.5 months (an increase of 1 month from our last update in September)

It is understandable that anyone looking at this number might be surprised. However, let’s try to break down the additional information which is available from different sources.

Firstly, the USCIS website currently gives information only for I-526 | Immigrant petition by Standalone Investors. Thus, the processing time for I-526 petitions submitted before RIA 2022* and I-526E is unknown.

Secondly, there are lots of different sources which state that following the RIA investors who submitted their applications after March 2022 got their approvals much faster between 1 – 15 months.

Now, let’s separate two categories of applications to gain more clarity on the processing times.

PRE-RIA investors who filed petitions before March 2022

9,527 petitions pending for investors who filed their applications before March 2022, according to the Report for Q4, 2023. The processing time for these petitions given in the report is of 50.5 months.

The majority of pre-RIA investors who are still waiting for their approval filed their applications in 2018 and 2019 when there was a spike in the number of filings due to the increase of the investment amount which occurred in Nov 2019.

These applications can be divided into 2 parts:

  • applicants from China – the approximate number of pending petitions is around 6000** and the review of their applications would be delayed until the moment the visa bulletin becomes current for them
  • rest of applicants – we are left with around 3,000 to 3,500 pending applications which at the current speed of adjudications of around a thousand over the last few quarters means that these pending applications should be reviewed within 2 to 3 quarters following Sept 2023.

POST-RIA investors who filed petitions after March 2022

2,613 petitions were filed after March 2022. 182 petitions were filed by Direct EB-5 investors and 2,431 were filed by investors with Regional Centers. 63 of them were already adjudicated by the end of September, so we can easily say that the processing time for these 63 applicants was around a year, taking into consideration the fact the Regional Center applications could only be submitted after August 2022.

For post-RIA applicants, with a certain degree of simplification for now, there is no division between countries of investor origins as the majority of the projects are from TEA locations and they have set aside visas which are current now according to the visa bulletin.

According to the USCIS update from July 18th, 2023 *** – they first review a project form which is the I-956F, and then they review the I-526E petitions from individual investors who have filed their applications with this project.

The processing time for review of an I-956F given in the Q4 report, 2023 is 12.8 months.

After form I956F is approved it takes approximately 1 to 8 months to review individual I-526E petitions, according to the information received from different sources.

There is also a clear trend that USCIS is giving priority in review of projects and individual petitions for Rural projects in accordance with the priority processing rule which is outlined in RIA 2022.

Thus, with the facts given, we can state that processing times for investors who file now would depend on when a I956-F was filed for their project.

The fastest processing time would be for investors who file their petitions with Rural projects with an approved I-956F, and this is why there have been examples of petitions adjudicated within 1 to 3 months after filings.

However, there are not that many projects with an approved I-956F petition as the majority of RC are accepting investors before the approval of their I-956F form.

To conclude, processing times for pre-RIA investors are around 4 to 5 years, while investors who filed after RIA and are filing now should expect processing times of between 1 month to 2 years depending on the type of their project – Rural or High Unemployment and when their project I-956F form was filed.

* RIA 2022 – New reform and integrity act signed in March 2022

** according to a report from AIILA

*** Update to Visa Availability Approach for Form I-526