The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are apparent in all aspects of our country and the economy, and the EB-5 industry is no exception (Read More: 3 Ways COVID-19 Is Reshaping The EB-5 Landscape). As the U.S. begins to re-open, prospective EB-5 investors are wondering what this means for the Program’s future. Specifically, there has been confusion and conflicting information on EB-5 processing times. To eliminate some of the uncertainty, we are posting weekly blogs about EB-5 to educate and encourage investors. In this post, we will discuss the monthly EB-5 Visa Bulletin and how investors can interpret it.

What is the Visa Bulletin?

Each month, the Department of State releases a “Visa Bulletin”. The primary purpose of this bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list for immigrant visa applicants that are subject to the quota system. It shows which green card applications can move forward, based on when the petition was originally filed and lets investors estimate how long it will take before they will be able to get a green card, based on how quickly the “line” is moving.

Step 1: Determine Your Priority Date

An investor can determine his or her “place in line” with their assigned priority date, which is the filing date of the I-526 petition. Priority dates can be located on an investor’s I-729, Notice of Action:

Final Action Dates Explained

It is important that EB-5 investors understand how to interpret the “final action dates” section of the monthly visa bulletin. The chart below from the December 2020 Visa Bulletin shows which priority dates have reached the front of the line and can apply for a green card.

Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Bulletin

If USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than applicants, they will allow investors to use the Dates for Filing chart. Otherwise, they will indicate that investors must use the Final Action Dates chart to determine when to file the adjustment of status application. However, if the chart is “current” on the Final Action Date chart or the cutoff date on the Final Action Dates chart is later than the date on the Dates for Filing chart, applicants in that immigrant visa category may file using the Final Action Dates chart during that month.

EB-5 Processing During Coronavirus Pandemic

Processing time is one of the most common concerns that EB-5 investors have. Although USCIS closed its offices to the public on March 18, 2020 at the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) continued processing I-526, I-829, I-924, and I-485 petitions.  On June 4th, certain USCIS field offices and asylum offices resumed non-emergency face-to-face services to the public. In addition, last July 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services. This means that EB-5 petition processing has continued despite the global pandemic. In fact, according to USCIS, the national average processing time of an EB-5 petition during Fiscal Year 2020 was only 14.2 months.

Historical National Average Processing Time (in Months) for All USCIS Offices by Fiscal Year:

Current and prospective EB-5 investors can remain confident in the EB-5 Investor Program, and we are always here to assist in anyway that we can.  Christian Tyler Properties wishes families in areas impacted by this virus to be safe and healthy during this difficult period. Should EB-5 investors have questions about EB-5 during Coronavirus or the Visa Bulletin, please feel free to reach out to us at info@ctp-fl.com.