The Department of State’s (DOS’s) monthly Visa Bulletins dispense valuable updates on visa processing for EB-5 applicants of nationalities with a high demand for EB-5 immigration. EB-5 investors of such nationalities are occasionally subject to years-long delays before obtaining their U.S. permanent resident visas, commonly known as Green Cards.
Aside from the inconvenience of having to wait longer before immigrating, the delays associated with the limited availability of EB-5 visas can hinder applicants in other ways; dependent children on their visa applications may reach the age limit of 21 and become ineligible, and the investor’s EB-5 funds may have to remain invested—and possibly redeployed into another project—to comply with the “at-risk” requirement.
Notwithstanding the traditionally long EB-5 visa processing times for investors from high-demand countries, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 recently introduced a new measure to countervail processing delays: set-aside visa categories. EB-5 investors in targeted employment area (TEA) projects and infrastructure projects will now receive a limited supply of reserved EB-5 visas each fiscal year. EB-5 visa applicants who invest in one of these project categories will be able to avoid processing delays caused by visa availability constraints. As China and India are both experiencing a backlog of EB-5 visa applications, investors of these nationalities can potentially immigrate years faster by investing in a project eligible for set-aside visas.
Reading the Visa Bulletin
When the number of EB-5 visa applications from a certain country surpasses the number of visas available to that nationality, the DOS considers the country to be in visa retrogression. In this case, investors born in the country are subject to cutoff dates that delay when they can receive their Green Cards.
There are two cutoff dates that apply to investors from backlogged countries: final action dates and dates for filing. Final action dates restrict when investors can apply for their Green Cards upon approval of Form I-526E. If the date on which an investor filed Form I-526E (known as the priority date) is on or after the final action date, the investor will not be eligible to apply for their Green Card, even if their I-526E petition is approved. Investors in this situation will have to wait—possibly for years—while the DOS gradually advances the final action date.
Similarly, the dates for filing restrict when investors can receive their Green Cards.
Cutoff Dates in the November 2022 Visa Bulletin
In the October 2022 Visa Bulletin, the DOS announced that India had entered EB-5 visa retrogression and that its investors would be subject to cutoff dates. The cutoff dates for both China and India have not changed in the November 2022 Visa Bulletin.
The final action date for Chinese investors is March 22, 2015, and the date for filing is January 1, 2016. Indian investors are subject to a final action date of November 8, 2019, and their date for filing is December 8, 2019.
While India had previously experienced visa retrogression, the backlog of applications had been cleared, and Indian investors could go through the immigration process without additional delays. The country’s return to visa retrogression shows that India is now experiencing an unprecedented demand for EB-5 immigration.
How Chinese and Indian EB-5 Investors Can Avoid Delays
As infrastructure projects are rare in the EB-5 industry, and the amount of reserved visas for such projects is only 2% of the total number of yearly EB-5 visas, Chinese and Indian investors should focus on TEA projects. The rural and high-unemployment TEA reserved visa categories are allotted 20% and 10% of the total EB-5 visa pool, so these two project types are the best way for Chinese and Indian investors to receive a set-aside visa.
The November 2022 Visa Bulletin indicates that all three set-aside visa categories remain current for China and India—for now. Since there is a limited number of set-aside visas, the supply could be exhausted in the coming months.
Low-Risk TEA Projects for Chinese and Indian Investors
EB5AN is pleased to offer three low-risk, institutional-quality TEA projects: Wohali Utah, Twin Lakes Georgia, and Saltaire St. Petersburg. Investors in these projects will be eligible for set-aside visas.
For more information on how to complete the EB-5 immigration process and avoid delays caused by visa availability, please schedule a call with our team. We have helped more than 2,000 EB-5 investors successfully begin the immigration process through our low-risk projects.