Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, EB-5 investors have wondered what will happen to the EB-5 Program. As confusing and conflicting information continues to circulate regarding EB-5 processing times, we hope to eliminate some of the uncertainty by posting weekly EB-5 blogs to educate and encourage investors. This article is the second part on how to read the monthly visa bulletin. You can read part one here: How to Read the EB-5 Visa Bulletin Part 1; Final Action Dates Explained
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.
Dates for Filing Explained
It is important that EB-5 investors understand how to interpret the “Dates for Filing” section of the monthly visa bulletin. This section comes after the Final Action Dates section and determines when investors can submit their final green card applications. In many cases, the Date for Filing will be earlier than the Final Action Date, which means that investors can apply with the National Visa Center (“NVC”) for permanent residence before it is possible for the government to approve that application.
In short, the “Date for Filing” chart determines whether or not an investor can submit the final immigrant visa application, and the “Final Action Date” chart indicates whether it is expected that a visa will be available.
The chart below from the December 2020 Visa Bulletin reflects dates for filing visa applications within a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process.
The “C” listing indicates that the category is current and that applications may be filed regardless of the applicant’s priority date. The listing of a date indicates that only applicants with a priority date earlier than the listed date may file their application.
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 important things that EB-5 investors look at. 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. Then 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 is all wonderful news for investors since many of their petitions have continued to move forward even throughout the pandemic!
Historical National Average Processing Time (in Months) for All USCIS Offices by Fiscal Year:
As EB-5 petition processing has continued during the global pandemic, there have been improvements in the process as well. In fact, according to USCIS, the national average processing time of an EB-5 petition during Fiscal Year 2020 was only 14.2 months. This is a 5.6% decrease from the year prior, making this nothing short of an opportune time for investors to proceed with their EB-5 processing!
It is important that the current and prospective EB-5 investors know that they can remain confident in the EB-5 Investor Program. Christian Tyler Properties wishes families in areas impacted by this virus to be safe and healthy during this difficult period, and we want to let you know that we are always here to assist in any way we can. Should EB-5 investors have questions about EB-5 during Coronavirus or the Visa Bulletin, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.