This is possibly with most asked question by our clients, so we thought we would go ahead and address it here.
Preparing and Filing an I-526 Petition
The first step in the process is filing an I-526 petition for an EB-5 Visa; unfortunately, this step varies greatly from investor to investor. Each EB-5 investor's case is unique, and the time it takes truly depends on how quickly they are able to work with their immigration attorney to prepare and file the I-526, along with conducting due diligence and establishing legitimacy of funds.
I-526 Petition Processing Times
The Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) processes 1-526 petitions. Currently, the USCIS estimates the processing time range for the I-526 petition to be 31 months to 50.5 months; however, the national average processing time is 12.6 months for the current fiscal year.
Visa Availability Approach's Impact on I-526 Petition Processing Times
This year, the USCIS announced they would now process petitions based on visa availability instead of in the order received. So far, the only applicants affected by the change are from Mainland China. The Dates for Filing for Mainland China applicants according to Chart B in the April 2020 Visa Bulletin is December 15, 2015. As such, applicants with priority dates before this date may continue in the process and submit their documents to the National Visa Center for an immigrant visa.
After an I-526 Approval
Upon receiving the I-526 approval, the USCIS sends the petition to the National Visa Center, who will then request more information from the applicant. In the case of EB-5 investors from backlogged countries (China, India, Vietnam), they will have to wait for their priority dates to be earlier than the FInal Action Dates (Chart A of the Visa Bulletin) . In the meantime, the National Visa Center will hold onto those petitions until their priority date comes up.
Filing an I-485 Petition or DS-260 Form
The second step in the process is to file the investor's I-485 Petition to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status if they are already in the US. Form DS-260 is filed for EB-5 investors living abroad, and they can continue the process through their local US embassy or consulate. I-485 petition processing times vary depending on the USCIS field office. At this point, EB-5 investors with pending petitions cans apply for and obtain work and travel authorizations.
Scheduling an Interview & Receiving a Conditional Green Card
Lastly, EB-5 investors will schedule an interview at the USCIS in order to receive their Green Card and passport. At this time, there is no specific processing time for when you'll received your passport back with your immigration visa after having the interview.
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