USCIS reported an impressive increase in EB-5 numbers for fiscal Q2 2024, which covered January 2024 to March 2024. There is a significant increase in new applicants, processed petitions by USCIS, new Regional Center registrations, and more new EB-5 projects registered with USCIS. Despite all this, the processing time for the EB-5 program remains one of the most uncertain and worrying aspects.

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

Official sources indicate the following information on processing times:

Estimated Processing Time on USCIS Website

I-526 Legacy

  • All countries except China: 54.5 months (a decrease of 2 months since our last update in January 2024)
  • China: 90.5 months (an increase of 4.5 months since our last update in January 2024)

Historic Processing Time on USCIS Website for 2024

  • I-526: 53.2 months (an increase of 3.2 months compared to 2023)

Processing Time in the Quarterly Report

  • I-526 Legacy: 52.5 months
  • I-526 Direct: N/A
  • I-526E: N/A

‘Legacy’ refers to all I-526 forms filed before the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA 2022). I-526 Direct refers to investors who chose to apply for an EB-5 visa with their own business after RIA 2022. I-526E refers to investors who applied with Regional Center projects after RIA 2022.

Using official sources, we can see that the data provided only relates to pre-RIA investors who filed their petitions before March 2022.

There is no official information on the USCIS website regarding the processing time for applicants who filed their petitions after RIA 2022.

Pre-RIA Investors Who Filed Petitions Before March 2022

According to the report for Q2 2024, there are 6,666 petitions pending for investors who filed their applications before March 2022. Most of these investors filed their applications in 2018 or 2019.

These applications can be divided into two parts:

  1. Applicants from China – The approximate number of pending petitions is around 6,000*. The review of their applications would be delayed until the visa bulletin becomes current for them.
  2. Rest of the Applicants – We are left with around 666 pending applications. At the current speed of adjudications, most of these have will probably have been reviewed by the time this article is written, considering that USCIS publishes their data with a delay. The number of reviewed petitions per quarter in the last few quarters was more than 1,500 petitions.

Therefore, if you are not from China, filed your petition in 2019 and still have not received an approval from USCIS, you should consider filing a writ of mandamus (in simple terms, filing a case against USCIS for unreasonable delay in case review).

Some of our clients from 2019 (outside of China) are still waiting for USCIS to review their petitions.

Post-RIA Investors Who Filed Petitions After March 2022

2,616 investors filed their I-526/I-526E applications in 2023, and 2,845 new applications were filed in the first two quarters of 2024. Thus, a total of 5,461 new I-526/I-526E applications were submitted in 2023 and 2024.

USCIS stated in their last report that at the end of fiscal Q2 2024, there were 3,939 I-526/I-526E forms pending, waiting for their review.

This should mean that in 2023/2024, USCIS reviewed 1,522 new I-526/I-526E applications.

However, only 63 reviewed petitions were reported in 2023 and 366 in 2024, totaling 419, almost four times less than should be based on the above calculations.

The data does not match and is confusing. Therefore, either USCIS is over-reporting new filings, there is a mistake in the number of pending applications, or there is under-reporting of reviewed applications.

Since we cannot find any officially published information on processing time for post-RIA investors, we rely on information received from our partners, Regional Centers, and immigration attorneys.

According to their information, the processing time for post-RIA investors depends on the type of project and whether the I-956F was approved or not.

The shortest processing time is expected for filings with EB-5 projects that already have an approved I-956F petition and are Rural. In these cases, the processing time can be anywhere between 1 month and 12 months.

The longest processing time would be expected for recently filed high-unemployment projects, and it can be anywhere between 1.5 years and up.

Among our clients, some of those filed at the end of 2022 are still waiting for their petition review, while some who filed in 2023 have already received their approval.

There are not enough cases that have been approved, and there is no official data available. The number of new applications is piling up, so we hope that USCIS will continue to work with increasing efficiency (especially considering the recently increased governmental fees), and in 2025 we should reach some level of predictability.

For now, our rough estimation for the review of I-526E petitions is 1 to 24 months, with the shortest processing times for rural projects with approved I-956F.

*according to a report from AIILA