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How do some EB-5 applicants get faster I-526 approval?

On what basis do some individuals get their I-526 approved faster than the USCIS average wait times? Looking at the I-485 pending inventory as of April 2016 from USCIS, I see 66 applicants filed the I-485 with a priority date of Feb. 2016 under the EB-5 category. The EB-5 priority date is the I-526 filing date, and unless the I-526 is approved, one cannot file for the I-485. So can someone please explain how the 66 people who filed in Feb. 2016 got their I-526s adjudicated in 1-2 months?

Answers

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    Ed Beshara

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The current processing time for I-526 petitions is an estimated 16 months. If I-526 petitions are being approved in less time, then it would not be the norm.

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    USCIS generally adjudicates cases on a first in, first out rule. Some cases do get processed faster depending on how officers review their cases or they may batch process cases; it does not generally depend on a particular project.

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    USCIS policy is to adjudicate petitions on a "first in, first out" basis. In reality, however, they seem to "triage" cases and move resources around to increase efficiency. It could be that a group of I-526s from the same regional center/project were bundled together and adjudicated by one officer or by a designated team of officers. As later-filed I-526s in that project arrived at USCIS, they were sent to the same team of adjudicators. If all project issues were vetted and the adjudicators were satisfied with the earliest-filed I-526s in that particular project, then the adjudicators would need only to review the source of funds documents for the later-filed petitions. If the timing was just right, that could explain why some I-526 petitions were adjudicated much faster. Another possibility could be that the USCIS report on I-485 inventory is just plain wrong. Also, keep in mind that the average processing time is a "true average," so some petitions will be adjudicated much faster and some much slower than the average.

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    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    In terms of some EB-5 applicants getting approved faster, that is normally not the case. Normally, an I-526 petition is adjudicated based upon the principal of first in/first out. So the faster thing you could always do is have your EB-5 petition on Form I-526 filed as soon as possible. Until the petition is filed, there is no hope of getting same approved at any time. However, there are a few instances when one's petition may be approved faster. There is always some variation given the fact that all the I-526 petitions are distributed among a variety of trained, specialized adjudicators and some may act faster than others, some may be on vacation, some may hold back a particular I-526 petition to issue a Request for Evidence and so forth. So, they are not all approved exactly in the same order as filed. There are a very few instances where a petition may be adjudicated if it meets the criteria for an expedited approval, but the conditions for doing so are very narrow and rare. Some petitioners once the petition is approved will obviously be able to file their application of adjustment of status sooner than applicants who were born in the People's Republic of China. It is only applicants from the People's Republic of China who are subject to a further backlog under the quota given the unavailability of visa numbers for a number of years. While we do not know exactly how long that may be unless Congress increases visa numbers for EB-5 applicants, there is a backlog that could be six years or even longer. Thus, if your I-526 petition is approved and you are from China and someone else is from any other country in the world, that individual will be eligible to apply sooner for adjustment of status here in the United States if they are physically in the United States under certain conditions or, if abroad, through the appropriate American consulate.

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    A Olusanjo Omoniyi

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The processing times in EB-5 cases are largely governed by the nationality of each EB-5 petitioner. Currently, as the situation stands, applicants from China has the longest waiting period. To determine the estimate of your waiting period, consult the current monthly Visa Bulletin issued by the State Department. Do not compare yourself with any petitioner unless you are from the same country and both of you had filed at the same time. Even then, the issue of documentation of each petition and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) handling procedures can make a significant difference in processing times.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    USCIS does not break down these statistics or really explain them fully, but it is possible those are direct EB-5 cases.

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    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    While it appears USCIS does batch process I-526s, i.e. by project, the chart referenced merely shows inventory of pending adjustment cases; it does not disclose when the I-526 was filed.

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    Vaughan de Kirby

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    There is no way to speed up the I-526 process. There are outliers like the ones you mention - we have experienced this as well. There is no explanation that is not a pure guess as USCIS is not transparent.

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