Retrogression: What does it mean?
EB-5 retrogression refers to the situation where demand for EB-5 visas in a particular country exceeds the annual visa quota. When this happens, USCIS establishes a cut-off date for investors from that country that determines which investors have available visas. In other terms, that country is now backlogged and has a waiting list for EB-5 visas.
Investors from a backlogged county must wait in line for an available visa and their place in line is established by priority date, the date of filing for their I-526 or I-526E petition. When an investor has an approved I-526 or I-526E petition and their priority date is before the cut-off date for their country, that investor can then apply for a visa.
An investor’s country of birth (not a country of residence) is used to determine what cut-off date if any, they must follow.
Note that the wait for an available visa is not the same as the waiting time for an I-526 or I-526E petition to be processed. After I-526 petition approval, investors from backlogged countries often wait for many years for an available visa.
As of the time of this writing, China, India, and Vietnam are all retrogressed and have visa waiting times of several years for new investors.