Where Is the EB-5 Program Gaining Popularity? A look at Fiscal Year 2019 Data

Year by year, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program grows in popularity, attracting more and more foreign nationals who wish to invest in the U.S. economy to obtain a green card. The U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs recently released the EB-5 data for the fiscal year 2019 (“FY19”), and it reveals new EB-5 growth since FY17 in several countries.

It’s general EB-5 knowledge that investors from Mainland China have historically dominated the program, and it’s also quite well known that India, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, and Brazil have been steadily approaching China’s lead over the past several years. In this article, however, we’ll concentrate on the EB-5 growth in the next countries in line.

EB-5 Growth from FY17 to FY19

A Chart about EB-5 Visa Growth

Wealthy individuals and families in growing EB-5 markets are increasingly choosing to invest in the EB-5 program for various reasons. The following are some of the key advantages of the EB-5 program:

  • The EB-5 program grants visas to not only the investor but also his or her spouse and unmarried children younger than 21.
  • The EB-5 program provides investors with a path to U.S. citizenship, which investors may apply for after only five years of permanent residency.
  • The EB-5 program allows investors to enroll their children in the U.S. public education system, increases their children’s chances of admission to U.S. colleges, and provides access to lower in-state tuition rates.
  • The United States is a wealthy, safe, highly developed nation that offers citizens and residents a wealth of opportunities to succeed and live the life they desire.

As the graphic above shows, Libya and Iraq jumped to 22 and 36, respectively, from 0. The growth in Japan and South Africa is also significant, although there was already a fair number of EB-5 investors from these countries in FY17. Growth in the United Kingdom was slower, but there is still an upward trend.

The figures, however, do not represent the number of I-526 petitions filed during the respective fiscal year. Instead, they represent the number of investors from each country who received their visas during the respective year. For most countries, it takes around two years for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to process the I-526 petition, so in most cases, these numbers reflect EB-5 demand from two years prior. Regarding I-526 petition data, there are other data points from the FY2019 data we’d like to highlight below:

A Graph about EB-5 Petition Data

Only 4,194 petitions were submitted in the fiscal year 2019, which ran from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. This represents a drop off from EB-5’s peak only two to three years earlier. As more petitions are received and await adjudication, timelines for processing I-526 petitions could increase, but a slowdown in petitions received will help with that wait time and make the EB-5 program more viable for future families.

Of the 4,673 I-526 petitions adjudicated in 2019, 21.7% of them were initially denied by USCIS, with a likely increase in Requests for Further Evidence (“RFEs”) and Notices of Intent to Deny (“NOIDs”). As a result of this action, our trusted immigration attorneys are informing us that, although they are not experiencing these kinds of results in their own law firms, they are prepared to respond to these scenarios and assist each investor they represent. If you receive either an RFE or NOID, please let your attorney and us know as soon as possible, so that we can make sure you have the very best team around you to get your petition through.

It is important to remember that an RFE or NOID is not a denial, but simply a formal response from USCIS regarding your petition that requires a response to address any concerns that the adjudicator had with your petition, no matter how legitimate or unnecessary they may seem. If you receive an RFE or NOID, our office will immediately coordinate with you and your immigration attorney to formulate whatever response is necessary as timely as possible. As of the publication date of this blog, our offices have yet to have an EB-5 investor denied their I-526 or I-829 petition, but we cannot maintain this level of excellence alone. Any response to USCIS is a team effort between you, your immigration attorney, and our team.

In the yellow highlighted window of Exhibit 3 above, you will see that only 455 I-526 petitions were adjudicated in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2020. This slowdown in adjudications could potentially add to I-526 wait times for other investor families, however, we will continue to monitor these trends as they are released by USCIS and post updates accordingly.

As always, we are here to serve you. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at info@ctp-fl.com.

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