As individuals who have gone through the U.S. immigration process know, wait times for certain immigration benefits can be lengthy and unpredictable. USCIS processing times are fluid and subject to change on a monthly basis depending on the volume of cases the Service receives and available adjudicators. Current processing times for an I-526, Immigrant Petition for Alien Entrepreneur, commonly known as the EB-5 application are at eight to nine months. If a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) are issued by the USCIS requesting more information related to the project in which the investor has invested in or related to the investor's source and trace of investment funds, the process can take even longer.
Premium Processing which allows an investor to pay an extra fee of $1,225 for a two-week review of their application is unavailable for I-526 petitions at this time. While many in the EB-5 community, have repeatedly requested that Premium Processing be instituted for I-526s, the USCIS has steadfastly refused to do so because of the complexity of EB-5 cases, as well as concerns related to fraud. As readers of my blog know, one can only file their green card petition once the I-526 petition is approved. Those that adjust status in the U.S. face wait times of 4-6 months for green card adjudication. Individuals outside of the U.S. generally face a 4-8 month period for processing of the green card application but may experience further delays if there is a security check issue.
The USCIS does however allow cases to be expedited on a case-by-case basis if an applicant can demonstrate that they meet one of the expedite criteria laid our by the Service. The criteria for expedite include:
- Risk of substantial financial loss to the I-526 applicant or the company receiving the EB-5 funds
- Emergency situations
- Humanitarian need for adjudication
- Compelling interest of the Immigration Service
- USCIS error (in delaying the application or unjustifiably denying a previous filing)
- The adjudication of the application is in the interest of the Department of Defense or is in the national interest. In these cases, the request should come from the official U.S. government agency and establish that a delay in a decision on the application in question would be detrimental to the government of the U.S.
Expedite requests for Adjustment of Status applications, as well as related applications for Travel Authorization (Advance Parole) or Employment Authorization (EAD) are also eligible for the expedite criteria. A carefully crafted request prepared by experienced counsel will be granted at the discretion of the USCIS Director.