The most recent USCIS data seems to deliver on the words of IPO Chief Sarah Kendall, who said in March 2020: “With a lot of the infrastructure development now behind us, IPO is better situated to improve productivity.”
In Q2 FY2020 (Jan-Mar ‘20), the agency processed 904, I-526 petitions, after just 455 in Q1 (Oct-Dec ‘19). Of note, incoming I-526’s in Q2 2020 plummeted to only 21, after a record amount in Q1. This massive swing reflects petitioners trying to beat the investment amount increase last November and the lull afterwards.
We can see in quarter 2 of fiscal year 2020 that more I-526 petitions were processed than in any quarter since Q2 FY2019. While this can’t compare with the volume of adjudicated petitions in Q1 FY2019, it’s a good sign that things are improving with USCIS, especially after the dismal numbers of the first quarter of this fiscal year.
Approval rates have lowered slightly from the previous quarter, but are still in 80% range, as we’ve seen during the past six quarters. Approval rates had slid to only 58% and 65% in the last two quarters of FY 2019 (Apr-Sep ‘19) so the rate increase is heartening.
The astounding statical anomaly is the number of I-526 petitions received — a mere 21. This represents 0.005% of the whopping 4,264 from the previous quarter with investors hoping to beat the November 21, 2019 deadline, when investment amounts were set to increase by at least 80%. Even compared to a “slow” quarter, like Q2 FY2019, the Q2 FY2020 filings still only account for a shade under 4% of that period.
As many immigration lawyers and economists predict, the market will take some time to adjust, and we can expect the number of I-526 petitions received to rise.
If filing numbers continue to remain even somewhat low, and processing maintains at the current pace, the program should continue to make headway in combatting the backlog of pending petitions.
*denied disclosure standards not met; thus total processed and approval rates cannot be calculated with this data
USCIS delivered better processing of I-829 petitions as well – the best results in the entire period since the beginning of FY2019. In fact, the agency managed to process more than double the amount of I-829’s compared with the previous quarter.
The number of pending I-829’s continued to grow between Q1 FY2019 to its height of 10,373 in Q1 FY2020, but there was a slight dip this past quarter. Just as with I-526’s, if USCIS can maintain this adjudicating pace, we will continue to see pending petitions dip over time.
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