The U.S. Department of State (State) issued good news for Chinese EB-5 investors today. The March 2014 Visa Bulletin did not contain any prediction of an EB-5 visa cut-off date being established for Chinese nationals. It appears, for at least the next few months, the EB-5 visa will remain current. An official from State spoke to the American Immigration Lawyers Association recently, and described the demand for EB-5 visas as “manageable.”
State has established a pattern of warning that EB-5 visa retrogression may occur and then reversing course a few months later. This is welcome news for EB-5 investors from China, because they will not be faced with the various issues that may arise if EB-5 visa retrogression were to occur. This news today from State, coupled with recent comments on the EB-5 stakeholder call on February 27, indicates EB-5 retrogression is unlikely to occur this fiscal year. On the EB-5 stakeholder call, EB-5 Program Chief Nicholas Colucci indicated that I-526 petition processing times were likely to increase as the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IIPO) in Washington D.C. continued to hire and train staff. Slow processing times of I-526 petitions may relieve demand for EB-5 visas. However, slow processing times of I-526 petitions have also impaired the ability of State to accurately predict the possibility of EB-5 visa retrogression.
State has also indicated that EB-5 visa demand is higher in the summer months, which is likely due to EB-5 investors seeking to immigrate while schools are on break. Accordingly, EB-5 investors with approved I-526 petitions should not delay visa applications until the summer months when demand is higher. Once an EB-5 investor receives his or her immigrant visa; he or she typically has approximately six months to enter the United States. Therefore, EB-5 investors with approved I-526 petitions can receive immigrant visas in the spring or winter and still enter the United States as conditional permanent residents during the summer school break.
However, EB-5 investors in regional center projects and pooled investments should review the appropriate corporate documents to determine the priority of job allocation. For instance, if jobs are allocated based on the date an EB-5 investor enters the United States, he or she should probably enter the United States as soon as possible after receiving his or her immigrant visa.