The Visa Bulletin for August 2023 introduced significant delays for Indian nationals applying for the EB-1 visa. Due to a backlog of Indian EB-1 visa petitions, this category has retrogressed 10 years—with a new cutoff date of January 1, 2012.
This means that, in the vast majority of cases, applying for a Green Card through the EB-1 program will take a very, very, very long time for Indian nationals.
Indian applicants who filed their I-140 applications after January 1, 2012, will not be eligible for EB-1 visas. Depending on their priority date and EB-1 application category, Indian nationals can expect wait times as long as 10 to 50 years.
EB-1 Wait Times Will Be Extremely Long for Indians
Given the demand for EB-1 immigration from India, the cutoff date may retrogress even further in upcoming Visa Bulletins.
These new delays will no doubt upend the plans of Indian EB-1 applicants. For example, dependent children under the age of 21 may age out and become ineligible for EB-1 visas. And career opportunities currently available for EB-1 applicants may no longer be open many years into the future.
Indian nationals living abroad will now have an extremely long wait time to get their EB-1 Green Cards. Similarly, Indian applicants who already hold another non-immigrant visa will also have to wait many years before transitioning to an EB-1 visa.
Holders of temporary work visas that are nearing expiration—such as H-1B—will likely find it impossible to transition to an EB-1 visa before their current visa status expires.
With thousands of pending applications, this unfortunate development for the EB-1 category may push Indian applicants to withdraw their applications and opt for a faster immigration category.
EB-5: Faster Green Cards; An EAD and Travel Permit in Only Days
Under the current rules, investing in the EB-5 visa is a much faster way to get a Green Card—and immediately adjust one’s immigration status.
Indian applicants who invest in an EB-5 project in a rural area now get priority processing of Form I-526E, the initial application for an EB-5 Green Card.
Even more significantly, investing in a rural project qualifies investors for a special category of set-aside visas. This means that Indian applicants who invest in a rural project (before the set-aside visa supply is exhausted) will not be subject to a cutoff date and will be able to get their EB-5 Green Cards without these excessive delays.
For further information on how rural projects allow Indian investors to immigrate faster, we invite you to watch our recent interview on the subject with the former chief of Immigrant Visa Control.
Indians who hold non-immigrant visas—including the H-1B, L-1, E-2, TN, and F-1 categories—can also adjust their immigration status immediately by filing Form I-526E concurrently with Form I-485.
For H-1B workers or holders of other visas near to expiring, this is one of the very few options to quickly change their immigration status and remain in the United States.
What is more, concurrent filing allows EB-5 investors living in the United States to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) and travel permit.
An investor in EB5AN’s Twin Lakes rural EB-5 project received his EAD and travel permit only 60 days after applying.
He can now work and travel anywhere in the United States, without restrictions, as he waits for his EB-5 petition to be processed.
We invite you to read his story here.
While the EB-1 category requires an applicant to possess extraordinary ability, be an outstanding professor or researcher, or be a multinational executive or manager, the EB-5 program simply requires a qualifying investment in a U.S. project.
Getting Started on the EB-5 Process
The rural project category offers unprecedently fast immigration for Indian nationals, but these benefits are temporary. There is a limited number of set-aside visas available.
Therefore, to ensure their eligibility for set-aside visas, we encourage Indian nationals to start planning their rural EB-5 investments as soon as possible.
For real-life examples of how to go about the EB-5 process (including finding an immigration attorney and selecting a project), watch EB5AN’s investor interview series featuring six Indian nationals.
EB5AN is offering free consultations to Indian nationals interested in EB-5 immigration.