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Feb 19th, 2024

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Q4 FY 2023 EB-5 data is good news for the industry: new filings and processing totals continue to rise

The latest USCIS numbers are in, and the news is very good for EB-5. 

In FY 2023 Q4 (July 1 through September 30, 2023), new filing numbers are the strongest in years. Processing for legacy I-526 petitions is 241% of the total from Q4 2022, supporting the agency’s promise to deliver faster processing. Additionally, a year’s worth of data allows us to see trends for the various post-RIA forms for regional centers, affiliated people, and promoters.

New I-526E & I-526 petition filings

USCIS received 888 I-526E (post-Reform Act) regional center petitions and 945 in total when including standalone petitions in the last quarter of FY 2023. This continues a steady climb in EB-5 filing activity and represents over five times the activity from the same quarter in the prior year. It's by far the highest quarterly filing total EB-5 has seen since FY 2020 Q1 when the Modernization Rule took effect (there was a surge in filings to avoid the 80% investment-amount increase).

93% of the filings were regional center investments, and 7% were direct or standalone investments.

Filing totals since the Regional Center Program reauthorization

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 became law on March 15, 2022; the new regulations became effective 60 days later, May 15, 2022, in the Q3 of FY 2022. Of note, FY 2023 Q2 is the first quarter USCIS started to publish separate numbers for direct and regional center petitions.

FY 2022 Q3: 32 (RC & direct)

FY 2022 Q4: 188 (RC & direct)

FY 2023 Q1: 556 (RC & direct)

FY 2023: Q2: 495 RC, 40 direct: 535 total 

FY 2023: Q3: 649 RC, 50 direct: 699 total

FY 2023: Q4: 888 RC, 57 direct: 945 total

FY 2023 total: 2,431 RC, 185 direct: 2,616 total*

*Note: For undisclosed reasons, USCIS published year-end totals for all data points do not exactly match the sum of their quarterly numbers; this applies to all the data in this article.


I-526 processing at highest level in almost 5 years

USCIS processed 1,291 pre-Reform Act I-526 petitions in Q4 of FY 2022, a 45% increase from the 888 processed the prior quarter. This is the highest number of petitions processed since FY 2019 Q1, four and three-quarters years ago.

For the entire fiscal year, USCIS processed 3,253 legacy I-526 petitions.

Here are the recent stats since the regional center program became effective again in FY 2022 Q3.

FY 2022 Q3: 455

FY 2022 Q4: 535

FY 2023 Q1: 480

FY 2023: Q2: 904

FY 2023 Q3: 888

FY 2023 Q4: 1,291

FY 2023 total: 3,253

Of the 1,291 legacy petitions processed in Q4, 814 were approvals, and 477 were denials, for an approval rate of 63%. 

In all of FY 2023, there were 2,149 legacy I-526 approvals and 1,104 denials for an approval rate of 66%.

I-829 petition processing

788 I-829 petitions were processed in FY 2023 Q4, with 671 approvals for an approval rate of 85%.

FY 2022 Q3: 389 

FY 2022 Q4: 459 

FY 2023 Q1: 336 

FY 2023: Q2: 447 

FY 2023: Q3: 474

FY 2023: Q4: 788

FY 2023 total: 2,040 

The latest I-829 processing total is by far the highest quarterly number since the EB-5 Regional Center Program started to operate again and more than doubles the totals from two recent quarters. So USCIS is also showing a commitment to better I-829 processing.

1-956 regional center applications

The FY 2023 Q2 is the first time USCIS published post-RIA regional center application numbers. Note that the Behring settlement determined that legacy regional centers that do not sponsor new projects or new investors do not need to file an I-956.

FY 2023 Q1*: 15

FY 2023 Q2: 176

FY 2023 Q3: 41

FY 2024 Q4: 25

FY 2023 total: 274 I-956 applications received

Filings surged in the second quarter of the fiscal year, January 1 through March 31, 2023, and then tailed off significantly. This suggests that most regional centers who wish to be active in the post-RIA era have already filed for designation and that there are now close to 274 regional centers operating in the program, taking into account that some applications may have been denied and some may have been filed and approved since September 30, 2023. 

USCIS approval and processing data for this form is inconsistent with 18 approvals in Q2, 48 in Q3 and no data published for Q4. The year-end number for total regional center applications processed is 148, with 231 pending.

*No I-956 data was published in Q1 but may be inferred by year-to-date numbers in Q2. 

1-956F project applications

FY 2023 Q1*: 26

FY 2023 Q2: 50

FY 2023 Q3: 61

FY 2024 Q4: 46

FY 2023 total: 185 I-956 applications received

While the vast majority of regional center applications were filed in FY 2023 Q2, project applications arrived in a more steady stream. The fact that there are far more regional center applications than project applications suggests that there is still a significant number of projects to follow these FY 2023 numbers.

* No I-956F data was published in Q1 but may be inferred by year-to-date numbers in Q2.

1-956G regional center annual statement

FY 2023 Q1*: 1

FY 2023 Q2: 287

FY 2023 Q3: 12

FY 2024 Q4: Not disclosed

FY 2023 total: 313 I-956G applications received

* No I-956G data was published in Q1 but may be inferred by year-to-date numbers in Q2.

1-956H bona fides of persons involved in the regional center program

Anyone involved with a regional center, new commercial enterprise (NCE), or job-creating entity (JCE) must file an I-956H.

FY 2023 Q1*: 275

FY 2023 Q2: 1,007

FY 2023 Q3: 493

FY 2024 Q4: 530

FY 2023 total: 2,350 I-956H applications received

With 313 regional centers filing annual statements in FY 2023, we can see an average of about 7.5 people filing bona fides for each regional center.

* No I-956H data was published in Q1 but can be inferred by year-to-date numbers in Q2.

1-956K registration of third-party promoters

FY 2023 Q1: 0*

FY 2023 Q2: 38

FY 2023 Q3: 258

FY 2024 Q4: 192

FY 2023 total: 644 I-956K applications received

USCIS quarterly numbers here significantly differ from their year-end total, suggesting quarterly publishing errors. With 185 project applications filed in FY 2023 and 644 registered promoters, we can see an average of about 3.5 promoters per project. 

* No I-956K data was published in Q1 but may be inferred by year-to-date numbers in Q2.

Conclusion: EB-5 is alive and getting more healthy by the quarter 

Despite projections based on doom and gloom, EB-5 is alive, and if not in ideal health, the program is improving at a promising pace.

New filings are at their highest number since late 2019.

I-526 processing is at its best in almost half a decade. No, it’s not close to over 3,000 to 4,000 petitions USCIS was processing quarterly in FY 2018, the agency’s high point for productivity, but it's trending in the right direction.

As of the end of September 2023, we can point to close to 274 post-RIA regional centers, 185 new projects, 2,350 people associated with regional centers and affiliated entities, and 644 promoters.

The RIA has indeed breathed new life into a program many thought was dead a couple of years ago; investors are coming back, and money is coming in. And the agency all of us decried, and rightfully so, as being far too inefficient, is moving a lot faster.

More progress will still be welcome, especially as filing fees spike, but the program looks better than it has in a long time for both stakeholders and investors. 

See the USCIS data

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