How is the filing date of an I-526 petition determined?

The date that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives and files the I-526 petition is the filing date. Also known as the receipt date or priority date, this is the day that the complete petition package—including any applicable fees—is received and filed by the agency, creating a new case. Once this is complete, USCIS issues a receipt notice to notify EB-5 applicants of their priority date and confirming the payment was received.

The filing date—or priority date—is important because it is helpful in determining the wait time for adjudication. Once Form I-526 has been submitted, EB-5 investors must wait for approval. This is the part of the process that is known to take the longest, as there is a high volume of petitions for USCIS to get through.

To check the progress of their I-526 petition, EB-5 investors can go to USCIS Check Processing Times page. There, investors can enter their information and get an estimation of their petition processing date. Investors will need to select their appropriate form from the website’s dropdown menu—this page can also be used to provide estimates for other forms, such as I-829—and enter their receipt date. Each investor’s petition and situation is unique and, therefore, the estimated times should be used as a point of reference and not as an absolute deadline.

USCIS allows investors to inquire about their I-526 processing date, but only for cases that are well outside of their estimated processing date. To determine if that is the case, an investor can return to the Check Processing Times page, enter their receipt date—which is found on their receipt notice—and a link to submit an inquiry will populate. The average processing time, as of May 2022, is beyond the time to complete 93% of adjudicated cases, or beyond 130% of the cycle time.

Because this process can be hard to understand, it would be in the investor’s best interest to seek the counsel of an immigration attorney who can guide them.