A harrowing two and a half months have followed the March 18, 2020, closure of all United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices to the public. The United States has weathered the worst pandemic in a century, shutting down most of public life to limit the spread. Now, in June 2020, as the country begins to open back up, USCIS has reopened its offices, permitting in-person appointments with strict health measures.
Throughout the pandemic, USCIS has continued to adjudicate EB-5 and other petitions that do not require face-to-face interaction, such as I-526 and I-829 petitions. Due to the closure of U.S. embassies and consulates, overseas EB-5 investors have been unable to pursue their U.S. green cards, but domestic investors filing an I-485 petition to adjust their immigration status have experienced an expedited EB-5 process.
Although USCIS has broadly reopened its offices around the United States, some offices may remain closed. If you’re an EB-5 investor who requires an in-person USCIS appointment, check the office closures page to verify whether the office in your region is open. However, no matter where you are, you can access limited in-person emergency services. If you need to contact UCSIS for emergency matters, use the USCIS Contact Center.
When you come to a USCIS office for an in-person appointment, you will need to strictly follow the health measures in place to keep visitors and staff safe. Please note that you may have to wait for an appointment slot because USCIS is limiting the number of appointments and interviews it allows during the pandemic. Additionally, if you feel sick, you should stay home and skip your appointment, even if you haven’t tested positive for COVID-19. USCIS will not penalize individuals who reschedule their appointments because they feel ill.
Jumping Ahead in the June 2020 Visa Bulletin
Following the trend of forward momentum, the final action dates in the June 2020 Visa Bulletin have moved forward for EB-5 investors from China, India, and Vietnam. The Indian final action date in particular has been making stride throughout 2020 and is now January 1, 2020. USCIS has already predicted that the Indian final action date will be current by summer 2020—keep an eye out for July 2020’s Visa Bulletin. However, Indian EB-5 investors must remain wary, as major retrogression is possible once U.S. embassies and consulates reopen and overseas investors can once again claim their EB-5 visas.
Charles Oppenheim Webinar
On Tuesday, June 16, the chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State, Charles Oppenheim, will be holding a webinar with IIUSA. The key topic is how USCIS plans to allocate EB-5 visas throughout the global health crisis of COVID-19. The speakers will touch on the rapidly advancing final action dates, most notably that for Indian investors, and talk about what will happen to any leftover EB-5 visas if the full EB-5 quota is not used up in FY2020.