On Jan. 29, 2020, USCIS announced that it would be making a significant change to the processing of I-526 Petitions, commonly referred to as EB-5 Petitions. USCIS previously had a policy to adjudicate EB-5 Petitions on a “first-in, first-out” basis. This meant that USCIS was to review and decide EB-5 Petitions based solely on the date the petition was filed with USCIS. Today, USCIS announced that it would change this policy and decide EB-5 Petitions using the “visa availability” approach.

What is the “Visa Availability” approach?

The “visa availability” approach outlined by USCIS would prioritize EB-5 Petitions for adjudication based on whether a visa number is available to the investor. This ties the timing of the decision on the EB-5 petition to whether the investor is subject to visa retrogression based on their country of birth. As a reminder, the employment-based fifth preference category “EB-5” is allotted approximately 10,000 immigrant visas annually. This quota includes principal applicants, as well as spouses and dependent children under 21 years of age. No one country can exceed more than seven percent of the total EB-5 visas available in each fiscal year.


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