What happens to an EB-5 applicant’s priority date when the case is transferred to the IPO?

When an EB-5 applicant’s case is transferred to the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO), the priority date should not change.

Immigrant Investor Priority Office

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency that oversees the EB-5 visa program. The IPO is the USCIS office that manages the program’s operations and processes EB-5 petitions, including Form I-526—Immigrant Petition by an Alien Investor.

Priority Date

When USCIS receives an EB-5 investor’s petition, the agency sends out a receipt notice. This serves to confirm that the agency has received the petition and provides the investor with their priority date—the date when the petition was received. The priority date is used to determine when the applicant may apply for his or her EB-5 visa. Applicants may check the status of their priority date by viewing the monthly visa bulletin.

Visa Availability

I-526 petitions are processed based on visa availability. There are a limited number of visas available each fiscal year, and countries with high demand—such as China, India, and Vietnam—have historically experienced backlogs. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, signed into law by President Biden, introduced an initiative to try to remedy that—reserved visas.

Reserved Visas

The reserved visas are meant to improve processing times for high-demand nationalities. The Department of State (DOS) will reserve 32% of the yearly visa pool—which is approximately 20,000 in 2022—for applicants who invest in targeted unemployment areas (TEAs).

There will be three categories of projects for reserved visas—high unemployment, rural and infrastructure. Any new EB-5 investors who put the minimum investment amount of $800,000 at risk in any of these three categories will be given priority processing. Reserved visas are also given to the family members of EB-5 applicants who are traveling with them, known as derivative beneficiaries. These are their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21.