In a positive turn for EB-5 processing times, the dates listed in the December 2021 Visa Bulletin are now current for EB-5 investors whose applications are based on direct investments for investors from all countries—including investors from China. While this is certainly good news, if the uptake among investors from China could “jeopardize visa availability under the overall FY-2022 Employment-based Fifth preference annual limit,” a final action date may be imposed once again.
Because the EB-5 regional center program has yet to be reauthorized, the cut-off dates for regional center applicants remain unchanged. Consequently, for the first time in the history of the EB-5 program, direct and regional center EB-5 applicants have different cut-off dates.
November 2021 Visa Bulletin: Chart A – Final Action Dates
In the November 2021 Visa Bulletin, China was the only country still experiencing an EB-5 backlog for direct investors. However, in the latest bulletin, in Chart A, the “5th Non-Regional Center” visa category for “China – mainland born” shows as current—for the first time since 2015. Thus, all countries now show as current in this visa category, and all direct EB-5 investment applicants can apply for their EB-5 visa once they are documentarily qualified.
In Chart A, EB-5 applications based on regional center investments are marked “unauthorized” to reflect the sunset of the regional center program. Chart B shows that China is the only country experiencing backlogs related to dates for filing in this EB-5 visa category.
November 2021 Visa Bulletin: Chart B – Dates for Filing
Chart B indicates that filing dates for applicants relying on direct EB-5 investments from all countries, including China, are current. Therefore, whatever their country of birth, EB-5 applicants who made direct EB-5 investments and who have met the criteria of the EB-5 program can file for adjustment of status upon approval of their I-526 petition.
Although dates for filing show as current for all regional center applicants except those from China, who have a date for filing of December 15, 2015, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to reject certain applications until further notice. Since the regional center program ended on June 30, 2021, USCIS has rejected applications related to regional centers filed on or after July 1, 2021. For example, USCIS will not accept new Form I-131 or Form I-485 applications associated with EB-5 regional center investments; the full list is available on the USCIS website.
According to section D of the December 2021 Visa Bulletin, if Congress reauthorizes the regional center program in December 2021, the final action dates for “5th Regional Center” applicants from all countries except China will be become current. Applicants from China will have a final action date of November 22, 2015.