There are two overarching questions when it comes to EB-5 immigration: time and money. The money necessary to secure an EB-5 visa is relatively easy to predict. It depends, of course, upon whether the individual applicant is investing under the current normal minimum of $1,000,000, or investing into a Targeted Employment Area, in which case the minimum investment is currently reduced to $500,000. A much more difficult calculation is the one relating to the wait time to obtain an EB-5 immigration visa. Here are some of the more notable variables affecting wait times.
Country of Origin
The applicant’s country of origin can have a significant effect on the wait time between initial application and conditional permanent residency. Mainland Chinese-born applicants are overrepresented in the EB-5 program. As a result, there is a per-country limit that causes current estimated wait times for 2017 and 2018 mainland Chinese-born applicants to soar to 9+ years. Just a few years ago, in 2014, the anticipated wait time was around a third of that. Applicants from countries that have not reached the per-country cap have the chance to jump ahead of Chinese applicants. This can significantly reduce their own wait time, but consequentially increase those of Chinese applicants.
Annual Quota on EB-5 Visas
Another factor to consider is the annual quota on the number of available visas. The current annual allotment is 10,000 EB-5 visas, with some years issuing slightly under that amount and some years slightly more. There has been congressional talk to reduce the annual quota, which would extend current wait times for applicants from all countries, but especially for Chinese applicants. However, should the quota rise in the future, it has the potential to bump up wait times for all applicants. Even a 10% ceiling raise might notably decrease the wait.
However, another major constraint is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) capacity to process petitions. Even if the quota were to rise in years to come, we might still experience a bottleneck in the overall process due to USCIS capacity to get applicants through the I-526 adjudication and other processing steps. The limited capacity of USCIS to move applicants through the system is the third major variable to the EB-5 immigration timetable. USCIS has taken steps over the past two years to address this bottleneck with promising results.
Having an experienced EB-5 immigration lawyer on your side is an important and invaluable asset when navigating the EB-5 immigration process. Contact David Hirson & Partners, LLP today for help with your EB-5 immigration process.
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