Rural I-526E Petition Approved in Only 11 Months: Invest in a Rural Project for a Fast EB-5 Green Card

Under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (the “RIA), EB-5 investors in rural projects gain unprecedented immigration benefits. One of the main incentives to invest in a rural EB-5 project is priority processing of Form I-526E, the initial petition for an EB-5 Green Card.

In a landmark event for the EB-5 industry, USCIS has issued one of the first approvals for a rural-project I-526E petition under the RIA—in only 11 months.

This is a remarkably fast processing time for EB-5 petitions, which usually take several years to be adjudicated.

Upon I-526E approval, EB-5 investors qualify for Green Cards and can live and work anywhere in the United States, along with their families.

If you invest in a rural EB-5 project and file Form I-526E, you, too, may be able to get a Green Card in as little as 11 months.

How Priority Processing Works

The 11-month processing time for this I-526E petition shows that priority processing under the RIA is truly effective, and may accelerate the immigration process by several years.

To illustrate the value of priority processing, consider the average adjudication times for I-526 petitions as reported by USCIS.

(Under the current program rules, the new Form I-526E is the application used by EB-5 investors in regional center projects. Direct investors use Form I-526. Most EB-5 investors choose regional center projects. While no separate processing data is yet available for Form I-526E, the following data for Form I-526 show that rural petitions will receive significantly faster processing.)

As of July 25, 2023, USCIS’s “Check Case Processing Times” page states that 80% of I-526 applications are processed within 56.5 months—nearly 5 years.

This average processing time applies to nationalities that do not have a backlog of pending EB-5 applications.

While this is a significant reduction in the adjudication time, the stakes are even higher for Chinese and Indian investors. Both countries have an EB-5 visa backlog, and investors are typically subject to even longer wait times.

The USCIS page reports that 80% of I-526 petitions from China are processed within 81 months—an extended wait time of almost 7 years.

A long processing period for EB-5 applications can be detrimental to an investor’s career or academic plans. An investor’s dependent children may age out and no longer qualify for Green Cards. And, in some cases, the EB-5 capital may have to be redeployed into another project.

Investors can avoid these scenarios by investing in a rural EB-5 project.

It is important to note that USCIS carefully reviews the project documentation when adjudicating each I-526/I-526E petition. If one of a regional center’s previous projects received I-526/I-526E approval, this does not guarantee that investors in other projects sponsored by the regional center will also be approved.

The same applies for Form I-956F, the project approval application each project must submit to USCIS.

Rural Set-Aside Visas for Chinese and Indian Investors

Besides the I-526E processing times, visa backlogs for China and India mean that these investors are typically subject to additional delays before getting their Green Cards.

However, investing in a rural project also allows Chinese and Indian nationals to avoid these restrictions.

Under the RIA, 20% of all EB-5 visas each year are set aside for investors in rural projects. Investing in this project type allows Chinese and Indian nationals to get their Green Cards after receiving approval for Form I-526E—without backlog-related delays.

This, in turn, can also speed up the immigration process by several years.

Still, there is a limited number of rural EB-5 visas available each year. Once the set-aside visa supply is exhausted, Chinese and Indian investors will once again be subject to backlog-related delays.

The best practice is for Chinese and Indian nationals to invest in a rural EB-5 project as soon as possible. This will increase their chances of securing the benefits of priority processing and set-aside visas.

For further information on how rural projects allow Chinese and Indian investors to immigrate faster, we invite you to watch our recent interview on the subject with the former chief of Immigrant Visa Control.

Get a Green Card in Months, Not Years, Through a Rural EB-5 Project

As one of the few direct paths to a U.S. Green Card, the EB-5 program has become an even faster way to immigrate to the United States. Investing in a rural EB-5 project can now grant you an unprecedently fast path to a Green Card.

EB5AN managing partner Sam Silverman notes the following about rural projects under the RIA:

“While the EB-5 program has been known for slow processing times, investors from all countries finally have a way to avoid these excessive delays and immigrate much faster. EB5AN is pleased to offer two-institutional qualities rural projects: Twin Lakes Georgia and Wohali Utah. Both projects are fully USCIS-compliant and financially viable. We want as many investors as possible to receive the immigration benefits offered by rural projects.”

While time is of the essence, choosing a safe rural project and filing Form I-526E requires careful research and source-of-funds planning.

EB5AN is offering free consultations for investors interested in exploring a rural EB-5 investment.

Schedule a consultation today—and potentially get a U.S. Green Card in as little as 11 months.