In keeping with its recent trend of slower processing for EB-5 petitions, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has moved back the cut off date for Indian investors by 17 months in the March 2023 Visa Bulletin
This significant increase in the backlog of pending EB-5 petitions will be detrimental to Indian EB-5 investors who filed their EB-5 petitions before March 2022.
They may now face additional months or years of delays before obtaining their EB-5 Green Cards.
Recent processing data for USCIS EB-5 applications shows that the agency’s processing capacity is becoming increasingly limited.
At the same time, Chinese investors received good news in the Visa Bulletin 2023: their cutoff date moved forward by almost four months.
This will allow more Chinese investors with pending applications to obtain their Green Cards and immigrate to the United States.
In this overview of the March 2023 Visa Bulletin, we explain how the new cutoff dates will affect Chinese and Indian investors who filed their immigrant petitions before March 2022.
We then explain how new investors from both China and India can avoid these delays by investing in a rural targeted employment area (TEA) project through an EB-5 regional center.
Analyzing the March 2023 Visa Bulletin March 2023
The Role of Cut Off and Priority Dates
Each country is entitled to only a limited number of EB-5 visas each year.
While this is not a problem for most countries, which do not have a particularly high volume of EB-5 applicants, nationalities with high demand for EB-5 immigration may find that their demand exceeds supply.
When the number of EB-5 investors from a certain country exceeds the number of available visas, a backlog forms.
The USCIS then assigns cut off dates to investors of this nationality to determine when they can receive their EB-5 Green Cards and immigrate to the United States.
An EB-5 investor can only move forward in the immigration process if they submitted Form I-526E (the initial EB-5 immigrant petition) before the applicable cut off date.
Since USCIS often moves cut off dates forward slowly and unpredictably, many investors have experienced months – or years-long processing delays due to limited visa supply.
As of the March 2023 Visa Bulletin, both China and India are experiencing a backlog of EB-5 immigrant petitions. Investors from these countries are subject to cut off dates.
These delays are certainly detrimental to investors who would like to immigrate to the United States with their families as soon as possible.
Career and academic goals may have to be postponed due to additional processing times.
Cut Off Dates in the Visa Bulletin March 2023
Reflected above is the final action dates chart, which determines when EB-5 investors can receive their EB-5 Green Cards.
The most notable change in this month’s Visa Bulletin is that India’s final action date has moved back from November 8, 2019, to June 1, 2018 in a 17-month reversal.
Indian EB-5 applicants who filed their I-526E petitions on or after June 1, 2018 are not yet eligible for Green Cards.
It is unclear whether USCIS will continue to move back the final action date for India even further in the coming months.
In contrast, China’s final action date moved forward from March 22, 2015 to July 8, 2015—nearly four months.
As China has historically produced the highest volume of demand for EB-5 immigration, this is a welcome development for applicants with pending EB-5 petitions.
China’s final action date had not advanced in several months, and the country has been experiencing a visa backlog since 2015.
The dates for filing, announced in Chart B of each Visa Bulletin, determine when investors can apply for their EB-5 visas after receiving approval for Form I-526E.
The dates for filing for both China and India have not been adjusted this month: they remain at January 1, 2016, and December 8, 2019, respectively.
While pre-March 2022 investors from both China and India cannot avoid these delays, new investors of these nationalities can easily avoid cutoff dates by investing in a rural TEA project.
Checking Your Priority Date on the Visa Bulletin
Any questions regarding your cut off date for a specific month can be confirmed by looking at the Visa Bulletin.
Alternatively, you can use the approval notice that the USCIS sends after approving the petition.
The applicant’s priority date is in the top section of the document.
Avoiding EB-5 Visa Delays by Investing in a Rural TEA Project
The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (the RIA), signed into law in March 2022, introduced three categories of reserved, or set-aside, visas:
- Rural TEA projects.
- High-unemployment TEA projects.
- Infrastructure projects.
Foreign nationals who invest in one of these project categories (before the set-aside visa supply is exhausted) will qualify for a reserved visa and thus be able to avoid cut off dates—even if their country has a backlog of EB-5 applications.
While high-unemployment TEA and infrastructure projects receive only 10% and 2% of the total EB-5 visa supply, respectively, rural TEA projects get 20%.
Since the supply of set-aside rural TEA visas is far more ample than the other two categories, rural TEA projects are the safest options for Chinese and Indian investors looking to avoid delays.
At the same time, EB-5 investors should carefully evaluate rural TEA investment opportunities to determine whether they can succeed financially, create the required jobs, and ultimately result in Green Cards and a return on their capital.
Low-Risk TEA Projects
Besides set-aside visas, these real estate developments offer EB-5 investors many important guaranties to safeguard their funds, and even qualify investors for priority processing of their EB-5 petitions.
This feature can allow investors to immigrate to the United States even faster.
We invite you to watch a recent interview with one of our investors.
He explains how his expertise as an investment banker for a distinguished firm helped him to decide on EB5AN’s Twin Lakes project as the best investment option for his immigration goals.
To learn more about how EB-5 visa availability works and how to immigrate to the United States as quickly as possible, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with EB5AN.