Is the faster EB-5 processing here to stay?   -

Is the faster EB-5 processing here to stay? Staff

By Marta Lillo

The EB-5 industry is noticing faster processing types of EB-5-related forms by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), particularly I-the 526s. In some cases, the review period is taking less than three months, in high contrast to the nearly year-long periods that had become custom last year.

These faster processing times have become a topic among EB-5 attorneys, regional centers, and other stakeholders, given the industry expected an improvement in the U.S. immigration agency’s Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) management of form applications since the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA).

However, it is uncertain whether these timelines will become the standard practice going forward; the USCIS website’s processing times calculator continues showing 54.5 months for processing I-526s, longer than 20 months for I-485s, and 58 months for I-829s.

EB-5 Investors Magazine contacted EB-5 attorneys to gauge the current trend.

New EB-5 processing times need consistency, attorneys say

Ed Beshara, managing partner at Beshara Global Migration Law Firm, confirms: “There is current rhetoric from EB-5 projects stating examples of I-526/I-526E petitions for Rural EB-5 projects being approved in a few to several months. In addition, I-956F Petitions for EB-5 Regional Centers being approved also in a few months.”

Belma Demirovic Chinchoy, the founding attorney of Iyer Demirovic Chinchoy LLP, has also seen faster processing times.

“Yes, processing has increased since RIA,” she said.  “All of my I-526Es have been adjudicated within 12 months and some in the 8-month range. Most of the I-526s from Oct./Nov. 2019 remain pending, however (these are ROW [Rest of the World]– i.e., not China-based cases). So, lots and lots of cases remain pending well beyond what is reasonable.”

Demirovic adds some I-956Fs, which regional centers must file to obtain USCIS designation, are also taking a year or less. “At this time, I would say that faster processing is limited to I-956Fs and I-526Es. This is still well below the kind of processing the EB-5 stakeholders need and have paid for.”

Wilka Toppins, principal attorney at Toppins Law Firm, says she has also experienced faster processing times with post-RIA petitions. “It looks like post-RIA petitions are the focus of the IPO at the moment with approvals coming in 6-8 months. Pre-RIA petitions that are not retrogressed countries are moving very slow still.”

Toppins says she even received a total of 19 I-516 approvals in a matter of weeks for applications that were filed in November 2019. “They all came in within a two-week span. All investors had filed in the same project.  Almost like one adjudicator went through the pile and just approved in one big swoop; no RFE [request for evidence]’s except for one.  The one we responded to and got an approval in five days!”

However, these EB-5 attorneys caution that the reduced processing times may not be consistent.

The agency is taking longer than expected to process the I-829 form. “The I-829s are a lost cause; many are pending 50+ months,” says Demirovic.

Charles Kuck, managing partner at Kuck Baxter, concludes that these EB-5 forms are going faster, “it is only because other petition types are going slower. The agency is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

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