The November visa bulletin from the United States Citizenship and Immigration services (“USCIS”) has been released and there is a clear indication of a reduction of backlogged applications. Albeit, the departmental closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed down the actual processing of applications but this visa bulletin is evidence of the availability of capacity for USCIS to process and approve I-526 petitions.
The visa bulletin states that the final action dates for applicants under the EB-5 immigrant investor program who fall within Mexico, Philippines, India and EL Salvador Guatemala Honduras are all current. This means that USCIS is up to date with all the backlogged applications in their system. Additionally, should USCIS receive new applications from any of these regions they will be able to process these without any additional delays. However this does not mean that all applications in the system have been processed and are ready to be sent to the National Visa Center to receive their green cards.
It must be noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the processing time of I-526 petitions due to various departmental closures. Therefore the average processing time is now between 20-26 months and not the normal time of 16 months. This is not a reflection of petitions being backlogged but a common response from all businesses due to the effects of the pandemic.
The July visa bulletin presented great news for Indian nationals as it announced that USCIS had caught up with the backlog of the Indian nationals class of applicants. For years Indian nationals have had to wait additional years to obtain their green cards after approval of their petitions, but now with the current status they only have to wait for processing of their I-526 petitions.
Comparing this to the China Mainland applications it is evident that USCIS has yet to catch up with their backlog. The status of the China Mainland class states that USCIS is 5 years behind in processing applications. While this may seem truly daunting it has decreased significantly in the past few years and is still decreasing. Between July 2018 and September 2019 the final action date for China Mainland was the same. USCIS was unable to make any significant movements in the processing of petitions to ensure some movement of the final action dates. This was at no fault to USCIS, the ratio of available visas versus applications received did not allow for USCIS to catch up. Now in November 2020 there is some indication of movement of the final action dates and there is hope.
The increased visa quotas for financial year 2021 will undoubtedly provide the opportunity for USCIS to keep aiming to catch up with the China Mainland backlog and additionally maintain the current status for all the other regions that were once backlogged.
Prospective investors need to recognize that this is the time to file for the EB-5 immigrant visa. They must act now while the investment amount is still $900,000, the visa quotas still at their all time high, and while USCIS has current status on majority of the regions
Our team of U.S. licensed lawyers have years of experience in helping individuals and families apply for U.S. residency via the EB-5 program. If you are ready to start your migration journey with The American Legal Center of Dubai, contact us today for more information.