Why are two I-526 cases adjudicated differently for applications filed at the same time?
My friend and I applied for the same EB-5 project with exemplary approval around the same time in March 2018. My friend received his I-526 approval notice two months ago, while I have not heard anything from USCIS. I am getting worried. Should I contact USCIS?
Unless your case is passed due on their status reported times, an inquiry won't help. However, they do not do cases based on first-in, first-out. They tend to batch process, but even then, there is no consistency. In part this may be because of different officers taking different times to process.
Adjudications are usually done on a first come, first served basis by a bevy of adjudicators. Your I-526 may not have been assigned to the same adjudicator as your friend''s. Besides all adjudicators do not work at the same pace. Nevertheless, if you think that your I-526 is way outside the expected adjudications time, you may do a status check.
You should contact USCIS only if your case has gone beyond the normal processing time. The best way to do that is through an online service request. There could be a number of reasons why your friend's petition was processed quicker than yours. It is not necessarily anything to be concerned about. If you receive a request for evidence (RFE) from USCIS, make sure to review it carefully with your attorney and strategize/prepare a comprehensive response.
Processing times may depend on the backlog of the adjudicating officer who is handling the case and any particulars of your case that may need additional review. It is not unusual for cases submitted at the same time to be adjudicated at different speeds.
Welcome to USCIS. We have seen adjudications from a couple of months to two-plus years. It is not "first in, first out." You can only inquire if it has been pending beyond their posted adjudication time.
You can always check the status of your petition online or by calling the USCIS. I think your friend was lucky to get the approval notice of his I-526 so fast since the USCIS processing time is between 22 to 28 months. They are currently processing January 2017 petitions.
Even if you and your friend filed petitions at the same time through the same regional center with an exemplar-approved project, it does not mean they will be approved at the relatively same time. Each petition has different individual component of source of funds and may be assigned to a different officer. Average processing times are about two years. Some petitions are adjudicated sooner and others may get adjudicated later. You should discuss with your immigration attorney to make a service request with IPO unit when your petition falls outside average processing times.
Sadly, USCIS seems to have no internal controls over how cases are processed, and even though they have said that they group investors in one project together for adjudication, they have not done so consistently or reliably. Processing time at USCIS is inherently unpredictable, and two identical cases, filed on the same day, can have radically different processing times (sadly, they occasionally may have different results as well). If your case is not beyond published processing times, making an inquiry usually just results in a form response that your case is pending and not beyond processing times. Often, if you case is not beyond processing times, you will receive no response at all from USCIS. Clients often do not believe me when I tell them this, and they are right to be upset. Our immigration service should be more accountable and subject to oversight and control, but until really large numbers of people start complaining to their local congressional representatives and senators, telling them that USCIS is out of control and not doing its job in the orderly adjudication of applications and petitions, the situation is unlikely to change.
There is nothing unusual with this situation. The information and contents of each petition usually determine the processing time and procedure. In this case, all these factors are responsible on how each of the two petitions is reviewed. As a result, expect the USCIS would give due consideration to your petition. Also, feel free to contact the agency if you feel like doing so.
It could be a host of reasons. Other than project-related reasons, petitions could get delayed for other reasons that might have to do with the applicant, the person who is reviewing the case, etc. Your friend's I-526, by the way, looks like got approved super-fast. Currently, on their website, USCIS is showing approval time range to be 22 months to 28.5 months. You are well within that time frame. No reason to panic.
Every case is different. Did you have the exact same source of funds? Probably not. Also, unfortunately, you cannot contact USCIS about a case that is still within processing time (and since USCIS estimates 22 months for processing, you still have a little ways to go before you can even ask about the case).
It's hard to know why two identical I-526 petitions filed at the same time would have different adjudication times, but that generally has always been true regardless of the type of petition. It may well be that the petitions were separated, went to different adjudicators, and one adjudicator was more current than the other. One will never know, but that's probably the most likely explanation.