It has been 22 months since I submitted my I-526, but I have not received the result. I invested in a USCIS approved regional center project. I called USCIS and they said they did not know why it was delayed. I also submitted the out-of-normal processing time-frame inquiry on the USCIS website, and they just sent me a letter saying they apologized. I was wondering if this indicates that the project itself has issues, or if it is a problem with my application? How can I find out the reason for delay and what can I do to expedite my case?
When dealing with the immigration service, you should be aware of the fact that sometimes they just take a long time. It is not necessarily indicative that there is a problem. You have limited options. You could visit USCIS.gov and schedule an InfoPass to go down to a district office to speak to an officer. Another option is contacting customer service (1-800-375-5283). The last-resort option is to file for a writ of mandamus in federal district court. This will compel the immigration service to act on the matter; it does not compel them to approve the petition - only to issue a decision.
You should first consult with the attorney who filed the I-526 on your behalf. You are entitled to a copy of the file and all the communication with USCIS after the filing of the I-526. Twenty-two months is certainly a long time, significantly longer than the normal processing time for the I-526. You may need to seek a second legal opinion.
There is a USCIS email for EB-5 cases; send an inquiry directly to that address.
I think you have done everything you could. I suggest you contact the regional center and ask them to contact the U.S. congressman who represents the area where the jobs are to be created. They can usually get the attention of USCIS.
Usually your attorney does this - do you not have an attorney? Yes, 22 months means something is likely wrong. Are you sure your case has not received an Request for Evidence?
I will suggest you contact your I-526 attorney to find out if the project received any RFE, when they responded to the RFE and what the status (approved, denied or RFEd) is for other investors in the same project. It will be your attorney's responsibility to closely follow up with USCIS.
Although 22 months is out of the processing time norm, this does not necessarily mean that something is wrong with the project. Recently, USCIS has removed the "expected processing time" for I-526s because they are currently overwhelmed with the amount of case load on hand. If this project has other investors who have been approved, it is likely that the CSC is taking more time reviewing your source of funds materials. The replies I have seen out of CSC regarding the "out of normal processing time" inquiries have generally been the same. It is unfortunate, but your only remedy may simply be patience unless you intend on filing suit against USCIS.
Talk to your lawyer who can do inquiries on your behalf.
You should contact the regional center and your immigration attorney to find out if the project is having issues getting I-526 petitions approved. If it is not a project issue, it might be an issue with your source of funds. Your immigration attorney should know about that. Otherwise, your case is just delayed due to USCIS incompetency, which means you can keep making inquiries every 30, 60 or 90 days, or see if a congressional liaison can be of assistance. Your final recourse, after an unreasonable delay, is to sue the USCIS in federal district court under a mandamus action.
Due to the EB-5 division team and all the cases moving from California to Washington, D.C., as well as the sheer volume of cases being filed, the USCIS is inundated with work and their processing times are very slow. Also, there are so many new regional centers that are newly approved/designated, but never have done the actual EB-5 project before. As EB-5 Director Colucci stated at the recent EB-5 stakeholder's meeting, their I-526 review standard is moving toward whether the project could be I-829 approved a few years later, which means the petitions will be scrutinized much more carefully at the I-526 stage. Until USCIS completes the review and issues the Request for Evidence, Approval or even a Notice of Intent to Deny, there is no way to find out what they are looking at and what may be the cause for delay. USCIS accepts an expedited request if you could cite and prove one of the following: - Severe Financial Loss to Company or Individual -Extreme Emergent Situation -Humanitarian Situation -Non-Profit Status of Requesting Organization in Furtherance of the Cultural and Social Interests of the United States -DOD or National Interest Situation -Service Error -Compelling Interest of the Service.
You should retain an attorney who can work through a liaison to get a response, or you can contact the USCIS ombudsman's office.
This is unfortunately fairly normal and typical. USCIS is very slow at EB-5 adjudications. There are approximately 15,000 pending petitions and only around 100 adjudicators, which is the cause for slow processing times. The processing time posted by USCIS are average times, which means approximately 1/2 of petitions are processed longer and 1/2 shorter. Being on the longer end does not mean there is necessarily any problem. If there is a problem, you would get a Request for Evidence. There is nothing you can do to expedite your case, unless you meet the criteria of a financial or humanitarian emergency, which is extremely rarely granted.
Unfortunately, those are typically the replies offered by USCIS when making these kinds of requests (I have also seen, on more than one occasion, "We regret that we are unable to provide you with a completion date at this time"). There are certain ways to request expedited processing and even federal actions you can file, but please consult a U.S. immigration attorney to assist you.
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