As the first petition filed in the EB5 investment process, the I-526 petition essentially acts as the EB5 program application. Prospective investors use this form to petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for status as an immigrant to the United States. Although USCIS does allow for certain forms to be filed online, Form I-526 is not one of them. Therefore, I-526 petitions must be sent in physical form to USCIS via mail delivery services, i.e. USPS, FedEx, DHL, or UPS.
When addressing the petition package, it is important to enter the complete address provided on the USCIS website. If an investor mails their petition to the wrong filing location, USCIS may reject it as improperly filed and return it to the investor to re-file. Moreover, along with entering the complete and correct address, it is important to include the Attn: line. This ensures the petition is processed and routed correctly for the type of filing.
Failing to sign the form or sending the incorrect filing fee will also result in a rejected form. As of November 2022, the I-526 petition filing fee is $3,675. USCIS occasionally adjusts filing fees, so EB5 investors must verify the correct fee on the USCIS website at the time of filing.
After an EB5 investor sends their I-526 petition to USCIS, they will receive a receipt notice — Form I-797 — from USCIS to confirm their I-526 petition has been filed. Form I-797 is used solely by USCIS as a messenger tool to communicate with EB5 investors. There are multiple versions of this form, with Form I-797, Notice of Action, being the standard receipt notice used to notify investors that their petition has been filed. Form I-797E is a variant used to request evidence, also known as a request for evidence (RFE). This notice is sent to EB5 investors when USCIS needs additional documentation to adjudicate their I-526 petition.