We are pleased to be able to inform you that according to the most recent Visa Bulletin from USCIS, the backlog for Indian nationals in the EB-5 program is completely eliminated! As you can see from Exhibit 1 below, all Indian nationals who file for the EB-5 program have “current” final action date for their visa availability. This means that every Indian national should have a visa available to them at the U.S. Consulate upon the approval of their I-526 petition. This is great news, as most “experts” were projecting backlogs of visa availability for years for any applicants of Indian nationality.
Charles Oppenheim of the Department of State acknowledged last month that EB-5 petitions for India should remain current through at least September 2020. Mr. Oppenheim also reportedly stated that he does not see Indian retrogression for the foreseeable future, and that his previous calculations about retrogression times for India were overestimates on his part. This announcement by Mr. Oppenheim shows that we were right when going against all other industry news sources.
As you can see from Exhibits 2 and 3 below, the final action date for Indian nationals has dramatically improved from January 1, 2019 according to the visa bulletin from April (Exhibit 3) to January 1, 2020 on the June bulletin and now all backlogs are shown as completely eliminated.
For comparison, you can view the visa bulletin from April below, which represents a twelve month jump in availability over only two months of visa bulletins from USCIS:
There is no published reason for the massive jump in visa availability, but it is important to understand that previous projections depend on an assumption on the number of dependents attached to each petition that is submitted to USCIS. If an investor submits an I-526 petition for themselves and their spouse, then that only counts as two visas towards any country’s annual allotment of roughly 700 EB-5 visas. However, it seems that previous projections assumed an average of over 4 or 5 dependents per I-526 petition chargeable to India, and that was apparently not the case. While anyone outside of USCIS can only guess as to the real reasoning for the jump from January of 2019 to current for EB-5 visa availability for Indian nationals across only 3 months of visa bulletins, it will come as welcome news to anyone who applied for the EB-5 program from that time.
The important take away from this data is that Indian nationals need to be able to take advantage of this limited window in visa availability. Exhibit 4 shows the volatility in visa availability since retrogression began for Indian nationals back in July 2019.
Additionally, historic processing times for I-526 petitions (the first form submitted in the EB-5 process requesting a conditional permanent green card) are the lowest they have been in 5 years:
All of these datapoints are converging to create a “perfect storm” of availability for EB-5 applicants from all over the world. However, Indian nationals are uniquely positioned to take advantage of these seemingly, once in a lifetime opportunities to obtain a permanent green card in the United States in a relatively short period time. By comparison, Indian nationals who submit for EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 visas will have wait times for visa availability ranging from almost 24 months all the way to over 11 years! When you combine this news with the Trump administration’s closure of the H–1B program and other popular short term work visas for at least the remainder of 2020, the EB-5 program can often represent a family’s only chance to immigrate to the United States via secure and permanent program that is held in favor by the Trump Administration.
In conclusion, we are grateful and relieved to see these official news releases from USCIS. We look forward to working with more families in the Indian marketplace who are looking to immigrate to the United States via the EB-5 program and our projects in particular. If you would like more information on potential next steps to take advantage of this elimination of backlogs for Indian applicants, please contact our EB-5 team at +1.813.838.0030 or you can reach out directly to Christian Taulbee, our EB-5 Investor Liaison, at email@example.com.