The amount of time it takes for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process and adjudicate an I-526 petition can vary greatly. For a standard I-526 petition, the average processing time is around two years or more, depending on the volume of filed petitions and number of available visas.
For projects that have received exemplar status, the same principle applies. It is very difficult to predict how long USCIS will take to adjudicate any investor’s I-526 petition. If an EB-5 investor’s I-526 petition has been pending longer than the standard processing time, they should have their immigration attorney or check the case status on the USCIS website.
For EB-5 investors who wish to avoid the typical lengthy processing times for I-526 petitions, there is the option of making an expedite request. While it is difficult to secure expediated adjudication, the significantly reduced processing times for the I-526 petition makes it a worthwhile endeavor. With expedited status, a standard I-526 petition can be processed and adjudicated within a matter of months, instead of years.
In the majority of cases, USCIS will approve a project for expedited status if the project relates to a cause that is of great urgency to the U.S. government. As outlined on the website of USCIS, such causes may include issues of national interest identified by other government agencies, including labor and employment agencies, or matters related to public safety. A project could also receive expedited status if it is a nonprofit organization that aims to further the promotion of U.S. cultural and social interests, or the primary applicant has legitimate urgent humanitarian reasons related to human welfare.
That having been said, acquiring expedited status is extremely rare. Foreign nationals living in the United States under a nonimmigrant visa should avoid making plans based on USCIS’s timely adjudication of their I-526 petition, regardless of exemplar status.