The time it takes to obtain an EB-5 visa depends on two factors: the processing time of the petitioner's application and the availability of an EB-5 visa once the application is approved.
EB-5 investments deemed to be in the national interest receive expedited processing, which is expected to take 6-8 months. Investments made in locations where job creation activity occurs in rural areas receive priority processing, which is expected to take one year or less. For EB-5 investments that are not expedited or located in rural areas, it is estimated that the processing time of applications will take around 3-4 years.
The other consideration is visa availability, which is based on the investor's country of birth, UNLESS the investment is made in a rural, high-unemployment, or infrastructure project. For petitioners from China, India, and Vietnam, past profigacy of oversubscription has caused substantial delays due to visa unavailability.
With the recently enacted Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, petitioners from these countries can invest in rural or high unemployment areas or infrastructure projects, thereby skipping these lines as visas set-aside for these petitioners are currently available.
The tool below calculates the processing time and visa availability based on the country and investment type selected.
The extended processing times for EB-5 visa applications, which are currently estimated to range from 3 to 4 years, can be attributed to several key factors. Firstly, a backlog of unprocessed applications from the past four years has accumulated, placing new petitioners in line behind these pending cases. The addition of ‘priority’ and ‘expedited’ processing exacerbates the waiting period for new applicants.
Moreover, the efficiency of USCIS's petition processing system has been hindered by a combination of factors. Understaffing within USCIS, potentially resulting from budget constraints, contributes to delays in processing times. Additionally, the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary shutdown of the EB-5 regional center program in 2021 have further affected the processing timeline.
It is important to acknowledge that funding limitations faced by USCIS are partly a consequence of the previous administration's efforts to restrict immigration by reducing financial resources allocated to immigration programs.