USCIS Announces I-526 Processing Update

Learn more about the latest update on how USCIS processes EB-5 I-526 petitions.

On July 18, 2023, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published an update to managing the inventory of pending I-526 petitions. This new approach applies to petitions filed before the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act was enacted and is intended to prioritize the assignment of a visa to such petitions.

The USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) has long had a three-queue system in place for processing I-526 petitions that factors in whether a visa is available (or will be available soon) and whether the associated project has been reviewed. Additionally, these workflow queues have generally been managed in first-in, first-out (FIFO) order.

However, effective July 18, 2023, I-526 petitions with filing dates on or before November 30, 2019 will be grouped by new commercial enterprise (NCE) within the third queue. These petitions will be assigned by NCE with a FIFO system by date of the earliest filed petition in the queue for each NCE. The overlap of project documents and any related issues allows USCIS adjudicators to more efficiently process multiple petitions associated with the same NCE.

When news of the upcoming EB-5 Modernization Rule swept through the EB-5 program, prospective investors rushed to file their I-526 petitions before the Modernization Rule could raise the minimum investment thresholds. This surge in filings created a backlog that has yet to be cleared. The purpose of this latest update is to increase productivity and more efficiently process I-526 petitions, especially those filed before the EB-5 Modernization Rule took effect in November 2019.

As mentioned above, IPO organizes pending I-526 petitions into three queues on a monthly basis. The updated workflow can be summarized as follows:

  • –  The first queue contains I-526 petitions where a visa is not available and not soon to be available. It is ordered first-in, first-out.
  • –  The second queue contains I-526 petitions associated with projects that IPO has not yet reviewed and have a visa immediately available or soon to be available. Projects in this queue are reviewed in order from oldest to newest.
  • –  The third queue contains I-526 petitions that have an available or soon to be available visa and either a reviewed project or a direct investment standalone project. This queue is ordered by the I-526 receipt date from oldest to newest. I-526 petitions are pulled from this queue and assigned to USCIS adjudicators in first-in, first-out order.

In summary, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has introduced significant updates to the processing of pre-RIA I-526 petitions for EB-5 Green Cards. Effective July 18, 2023, USCIS has revised its three-queue system to better manage the backlog created by a surge in applications before the EB-5 Modernization Rule took effect.

Under the new guidelines, petitions filed on or before November 30, 2019, will be organized within the third queue based on their new commercial enterprise (NCE) and processed in a first-in, first-out manner for each NCE. This restructuring aims to streamline the processing of multiple petitions tied to the same NCE, thereby enhancing productivity and improving the efficiency of the entire application process.

For more information, schedule a free consultation with EB5AN.