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How do I read the U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin?

I live in Hong Kong but I was born in mainland China. I am considering to apply for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and I have been keeping up with the Visa Bulletins published by the U.S. government. However, I do not quite get it. Can someone please explain it? How long would it take for someone like me to potentially receive a green card?

Answers

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    Barbara Suri

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The basic rule of chargeability is that a person is charged against the quota for his/her country of birth; in your case: China. In some situations, however, it is possible to be charged against the country of chargeability of your spouse.

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    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The U.S. Department of State issues their Visa Bulletin online every month. Since you were born in mainland China, you would be subject to the EB-5 quota for mainland Chinese nationals. The Visa Bulletin shows when a visa number is available and you are eligible to have your immigrant visa issued or your application for Adjustment of Status filed. In some cases, it may also show, monthly, an earlier date (typically not more than 4 months earlier) by which the applicant may assemble and submit the required documents to the Department of State''s National Visa Center (that is, if they intend to apply for their immigrant visa through the American Consulate in Guangzhou and under certain conditions may apply for Adjustment of Status if within the U.S.). Given the backlog under the quota for mainland Chinese nationals, it could take several years or longer from the date you file your I-526 petition before a visa number will be available. There is a possibility Congress will increase the quota by changing the law to clarify that dependents do not count against the 10,000-visa annual quota.

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    If you are born in mainland China, you are subject to an immigrant visa backlog after the approval of the I-526 petition because the EB-5 visa category is oversubscribed for mainland Chinese nationals. This does not prevent you from filing I-526 petition right now, however. If you have a spouse that is not born in mainland China, you may apply for an immigrant visa abroad or file adjustment of status application Form I-485 (if in another lawful immigration status in the U.S.) immediately upon approval of I-526 petition and will not be subject to an immigrant visa backlog for mainland Chinese nationals. You first need to determine whether you plan to file with an investment through a regional center or with a direct investment into a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. The U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin is published every month and you will track EB-5 visa category progress based on your priority date (i.e. the date USCIS received your I-526 petition) based on either EB-5 non-regional center or EB-5 regional center EB-5 category. The Bulletin also shows potential monthly movement for each category, including the EB-5 visa category.

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    Shannon M Shepherd

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The Visa Bulletin allows you to check whether there is a backlog in any given category. For the EB-5 category, there is only a backlog for China right now (mainland-born). Even though you live in Hong Kong, you must use the country of citizenship so, unfortunately, it looks as though you would fall into that backlog. Right now, they are processing applications filed in June 2014, so it is about a three-year wait time. I hope that helps.

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    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    This would depend on the nationality laws of China but, based on my limited knowledge thereof, I believe China operates under a law that states if you are born in mainland China, you are a Chinese national/citizen by birth irrespective of where you reside. Therefore, you would be subject to the priority date imposed on the mainland Chinese nationals listed in the Visa Bulletin.

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    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The visa bulletin is based on your place of birth, so you are subject to the mainland China waiting line. It is presently about 38 months of wait time unless you are married to someone who is born in a country other than mainland China. Then, there is no waiting line, because you can cross charge to your spouse 's place of birth. If this option is not available, we expect the waiting line will soon go to 4 years or more. There are many cases in the waiting line although again, there is hope as one of the proposals would increase the program from the current 10,000 visas to 10,000 families which would resolve the issue of the waiting line. To get in line, you must file your case.

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    Jon Eric Garde

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Affirmative immigration to the United States is governed by a quota system. There are two kinds of quotas. One is a statutory allocation per country of 25,620 per annum. The other quota is determined by statutory preference category. EB-5 stands for “employment-based fifth preference.” Many Chinese investors use EB-5, thus, that category is greatly backlogged and will likely get worse with increased market demand. You begin to understand the degree of the backlog by the preference date that is current, i.e., currently being processed by USCIS. The higher the demand, the slower priority dates move forward. It is therefore wise to review monthly, as you may determine which visa option is best for you and your family.

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    Ying Lu

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Since you were born in mainland China, you will be subject to the visa backlog. The visa backlog has nothing to do with your ability to file the I-526 petition. It only decides when you can file your second step, the I-485 or DS-260. There are two charts chart A and chart B for employment-based immigration categories. Chart A is for “Final Action Dates.” A visa number is available if a Priority Date comes before the date listed in this chart. Chart B indicates when the intending immigrant can apply for an immigrant visa. An applicant can file an adjustment of status application (I-485) or DS-260 provided that the applicant 's priority date is before the date listed in the filing dates chart. If you are interested in EB-5, you should just look at the EB-5 category. The EB-5 category includes two subcategories: EB-5 with regional centers and non-regional centers affiliated EB-5. You need to know what kind of project you will invest in. Currently, there is not much difference regarding those two subcategories in terms of the cut-off date. If your spouse was not born in mainland China, you can file your I-485 or DS-260 immediately after your I-526 petition is approved. The visa backlog does not apply to you. This is called inter-chargeability.

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