On February 26, 2014, an EB-5 stakeholder conference call was held. The call featured updates from Daniel Renaud, Deputy Associate of USCIS Field Operations Directorate, and Nicholas Colucci, the newly appointed EB-5 Program Director. During this call, Renaud addressed several goals for the program. Chief among them was a desire to address the processing times for EB-5 program petitions. This was great news for investors as processing times have seen sharp increases over the past few years. Even better news is that the most recent USCIS report reflects good momentum in reaching this goal.
Dating back to 2004, immigrant investors who filed their I-526 forms could expect to hear back from the USCIS as quickly as 1 month. From 2004 through 2011, the expected processing time was anywhere from 3 months to 8 months. However, beginning in late 2012, the processing time for I-526 forms seemed to sky rocket. The backlog continued, and by November 2013, the expected processing time for an I-526 form could be up to 20 months. Fortunately, this was the highpoint of this undesirable trend. In its next release of data, the California Service Center reported an expected processing time of 18 months. This small decrease was just the beginning. The latest update provided by USCIS shows a current processing time of approximately 10 months. Petitions submitted on March 31, 2013 were being reviewed as of January 31, 2014.
I-829 processing times followed a similar trajectory. Prior to late 2012, I-829 processing times hovered around 6 months. However, this began to change in late 2012 and by November 2013, I-829 processing times could be up to 18 months. The most recent report shows that the processing time has been reduced to a much more reasonable 11 months. Additionally, the report indicated the current processing times for I-924 petitions is approximately 12 months.
Colucci stated during the EB-5 Program stakeholder conference call that, as of February 2014, I-526 and I-924 Petitions will be adjudicated in Washington D.C.’s Investor Program Office. He is tasked with overseeing the transition of the EB-5 program to the Washington D.C. office and hopes to have a staff of 100 by September 30, 2014. Hopefully, this will continue to address this issue.