Let's talk

EB-5 FY 2022 Q3 processing data: I-526 numbers continue to improve but still a long way off from 2020 highs

EB-5 News
Q3 2022

Date

Nov 18th, 2022

Share

Profile

Jason Buback

Editor of Green Card By Investment

Green Card By Investment

Comments

You have to be registered to leave a comment

Recently published USCIS data show that the agency is making significant improvement with I-526 processing. The agency adjudicated a total of 455 petitions in FY 2022 Q3, up from 152 petitions processed in Q2 and just 61 in Q1. However, the numbers are just 40% of the total processing in FY 2020 Q4.

I-526 processing

In 2022 Q3, USCIS processed a total of 455 I-526 petitions, reflecting a strong upward trend in processing efficiency after an all-time low of just 61 petitions processed in 2022 Q1, and 152 processed in Q2.

As a point of comparison, FY 2020 Q4 was the most productive I-526 processing quarter  for the Immigration Service since the beginning of FY 2019 with a total of 1,140 I-526 petitions processed. 

Going back further, FY 2018 Q3 was the most productive quarter in the past several years with an astounding 4,424 I-526 petitions processed (4,012 approvals and 412 denials). 

So the recent upward trend in processing is encouraging but there is a long way to go before we reach the adjudications we witnessed four years ago. Hopefully, with news of USCIS hiring and the impact of the pandemic diminishing, we will continue to see significant gains in processing numbers going forward.

In terms of I-526 receipts, EB-5 processing expert Suzanne Lazicki tells us that the statistics do not yet reflect I-526E (the new application for investors who make regional center investments) so the meager numbers reflect only direct investment applications and suggest the appetite for this type of investment has severely declined with the return of the Regional Center Program. 

USCIS I-526 Processing statistics for the last 8 quarters

Fiscal year

2020 Q4

2021 Q1

2021 Q2

2021 Q3

2021 Q4

2022 Q1

2022 Q2

2022 Q3

I-526 received

53

91

98

169

456

189

420

32

I-526 approved

904

1,004

752

592

50

16

50

264

I-526 denied

236

119

130

135

266

45

102

191

I-526 processed

1,140

1,123

882

727

316

61

152

455

I-526 processing time & future projections

With its FY 2022 Q3 data, USCIS has published an I-526 processing time of 43.8 months. 

If USCIS processing efficiency were to remain exactly the same as per Q3, the Immigration Service would take seven years to process the 12,998 pending I-526 petitions. Hopefully, a continuing upward trend in efficiency reduces such absurdly high projected wait times.

Extremely high I-526 denial rate

The FY 2022 Q3 I-526 denial rate of 42% is significantly higher than historical averages that have often been around 10% to 20%. Lazicki observes, “The large number of denials reflects attitudes at the Investor Program Office, particularly toward direct EB-5 cases, and particularly since the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act protected USCIS from judicial review of unjust EB-5 decisions.”

She goes on to say that during the Regional Center Program lapse, many denials were just withdrawn petitions but that “the Q3 denials are largely denials.” 

I-829 processing 

In 2022 Q3, USCIS processed a total of 389 I-526 petitions. 

While I-829 processing has not quite followed the same precipitous decline that I-526 processing has, the most recent total is still roughly half of the I-829 processing numbers of 2020 Q4. As per our remarks above, one can hope that USCIS processing efficiency continues to increase and that I-829 numbers begin to approach the highs of recent years.

USCIS I-829 Processing statistics for the last 8 quarters

Fiscal year

2020 Q4

2021 Q1

2021 Q2

2021 Q3

2021 Q4

2022 Q1

2022 Q2

2022 Q3

I-829 received

740

205

1,053

1,249

794

618

383

200

I-829 approved

732

641

566

402

404

299

396

340

I-829 denied

62

41

37

46

87

27

51

49

I-829 processed

794

682

503

448

491

326

447

389

Data leak observations 

Lazicki has managed to acquire leaked and therefore unofficial but highly revealing data from USCIS.

With regards to I-526 processing she gives us this inside information: “Recent I-526 approvals have settled into a sort of cluster on I-526 [applications] filed in December 2018.” However, she has also seen “a significant pending inventory of untouched I-526s from every quarter” since FY 2016.

Noting that denied petitions tend to be older than approved ones, she  makes the interesting conjecture that “the longer an I-526 stays unadjudicated, the more likely it is to end in denial or withdrawal.” 

WIth regards to I-829 processing, Lazicki has seen many adjudications “clustered around petitions filed in 2019.” However, some have been filed as far back as 2015 and as recently as 2021. The wide variance in I-829 processing time makes her question whether the Immigration Service is “trying to group I-829 from different filing dates by project, to process the project all at once.” 

See Suzanne Lazicki’s blog “I-526, I-829, and I-485 Processing (FY2022 Q3 report and leaked data)”

Sign up for our EB-5 Weekly newsletter