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Why do investors involved in the same EB-5 project get their green cards at different times?

Hi, I am an Arabian national. I applied for an I-526 in June 2016 and my priority date is June 6, 2016. It has been over 18 months since I applied and have not received any answer from USCIS. I understand that, as of September 30, 2017, USCIS is processing the files of December 18, 2015. But, my question is: How is it possible that another applicant, who applied for the I-526 after me and is involved in the same project, had his file is approved? To be precise, one of the applicants applied in the month of August 26, 2016, and another applied in the month of September 2016. How come their files have been processed and approved, and not mine? All of us belong to the same project. And, if that is the case, what is the meaning of the December 18, 2015, file processing mark on the USCIS website?

Answers

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    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    There are many factors at play here. The USCIS processing time reports are based on a formula (number of cases received, number of caseworkers on the case, etc., are used in determining the date of processing) and are not an exact science. Also, depending on the caseload of the caseworker working on your particular case, there may be delays in reviewing/adjudicating your case.

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    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The fact that someone who filed after you in the same project has his I-526 petition approved before you, even though he filed a month after you, does not necessarily have any significant meaning. It probably occurred under random circumstances; for example, his petition went to the desk of one examiner and your petition wound up on the desk of another examiner. Perhaps his examiner had somewhat fewer cases or perhaps your examiner took an overdue vacation; there are human elements involved in the timing as well. The fact his petition in the same project has been approved would also be good evidence that your petition will be approved soon, as well. Also, the fact that the website indicates it is processing petitions filed as of December 18, 2015 is not that significant either. The December 18, 2015 date is more or less an average time for processing, which in fact means some cases were approved sooner and some cases filed after that date.

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    Ed Beshara

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Each I-526 petition is made up of the same EB-5 project documentation while each I-526 period is made up of different lawful source of fund documentation. If an I-526 petition is approved, then all subsequent I-526 petitions and the EB-5 project documentation should be approved. Then the only adjudication by USCIS will be the review of the personal source of investment funds of each investor. This may be a reason why your case is taking longer. If your case is not adjudicated and beyond the set processing time, then you can file a Mandamus Action in Federal Court so that a judge may order USCIS to make a decision on your case immediately.

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    Barbara Suri

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    If the USCIS cut-off date for your country is December 18, 2015, they are not allowed to process any cases from your country with a later priority date. It is possible that the two persons to whom you refer are from another country that has a later cut-off date. Notice also that there are sometimes other countries for which no visas are even available, and those applications have to be held in abeyance until visas become available; sometimes for years. It is your country's allocation of visas that controls this process, not the project.

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    Phuong Le

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The short answer is that "first-in, first-out" maybe a USCIS processing goal, but it''s not guaranteed (as they acknowledged during the New York EB-5 Stakeholders Teleconference in November 2017).

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    Yazen Abdin

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    It is impossible to know for certain why your petition is taking longer. Some possible reasons could be a source of funds issue or, if you all used different attorneys, maybe your attorney did something wrong which may be delaying the processing of your case? Or it could be nothing at all; sometimes, some cases just work their way through the system quicker than others and there is no real reason for it.

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    Jinhee Wilde

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The December 18, 2015, processing time on the USCIS website is the average processing time. Although USCIS states that they review cases on first-in-first-out (FIFO) bases, it never worked that way. Because different adjudicating officers work at different speeds and have different levels of experience, not all the cases are reviewed with same scrutiny or speed, and there are more than 40 officers with varying degrees of experience and expertise. Also, depending on how the petition with thousands of pages of supporting documents was prepared, each case will be different. If all the source of fund documents are put into one big pile with 1 short memo summary explaining the legality, then the officer will need to dig through the hundreds of pages of bank statements, tax records, etc. to track the money movement to see if the funds were indeed legally sourced. If, on the other hand, the documents are organized by different transactions or accounts and carefully explained in a detailed memo corroborated by charts with different exhibits noted, then the job of the officer reviewing such file will be much easier and will take less time leading to faster adjudication, particularly if the officer already knows that the project has been approved. Thus, it is extremely important to work with the recognized and experienced EB-5 professional with rather than merely accepting what the migration agents or a project pushes you to use.

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    Dale Schwartz

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Their files probably landed on different officers' desks. Also, the government often lies about processing times. They will get to your file soon.

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The processing time posted by USCIS is an average processing time. Some cases are approved quickly if they are in a batch of cases with no adjudication issues in the same regional center. Some individual petitions take longer if they are subject to additional security or background checks, if they have been assigned to a different officer or team of officers working at a slower pace, or if the petition requires a request for evidence (RFE) on the issue of whether the invested capital was obtained by lawful means (lawful source of funds).

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