The I-526 Immigrant Petition by an Alien Entrepreneur is filed by the EB-5 investor to demonstrate that they are in the process of investing, or have already invested the required amount of capital in a suitable EB-5 project.
Unfortunately, processing of I-526 petitions has slowed in recent years and adjudications may take up to 24 months, or in some cases, even longer. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the exponential growth of the EB-5 program and the sheer volume of petitions received make it difficult to keep pace. For example, since 2007, EB-5 visas have increased nearly 350%. In 2008, EB-5 administrators received just 1,258 I-526 petitions. Whereas last year, that number surged to over 6,300 petitions. The USCIS has simply struggled to keep up with this rapid growth.
However, there is good news. In 2013, the USCIS made it a priority for the EB-5 program to increase efficiency, accelerate adjudications and improve customer service. Major changes have already been made to reach these goals. As of February 2014, administration of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program has been transferred to a new EB-5 Program Office located in Washington DC. As part of this move, the USCIS plans to hire 100 new employees dedicated to the EB-5 program. The new office will be staffed by personnel with economic, business, and legal expertise and experience, and new employees will undergo an intensive five-week training program.
Furthermore, the Electronic Immigration System, a streamlined online account-based system is now available for I-526 petitions. Immigrant investors are able to access electronic copies of the documents pertaining to their investment, attest that the documents are true and accurate copies, and supplement their electronic or paper-based Form I-526 petition with documents stored in an online library.
We expect these measures to greatly improve the program’s efficiency. The EB-5 office has already increased the pace of review and was able to adjudicate a significantly greater volume of I-526 petitions during the first half of the year. The hope is that by the end of 2014, the full effects of these changes will be felt throughout the EB-5 program and result in a far more expeditious, predictable processing period.
At Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we know how important it is for you and your family to keep to date with EB-5 processing times and delays. Our attorneys can advise you on the latest and updates. Contact us for more information.