Because numerous factors—from the complexity of the petition to the working style of the adjudicator—affect Form I-526 processing times, processing times vary. The current average processing times are listed on the Check Case Processing Times page on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. However, it is important to understand how to interpret the information listed on this page to accurately gauge whether an I-526 petition is taking longer than normal to process. Investors who believe their petitions are delayed can enquire about the status of adjudication.
USCIS provides a range, in months, of processing times, which it updates each month. This time range is a clearer indication of expected delays than average processing times, and it is based on data from two months ago. The lower number indicates how long it took USCIS to process half of the petitions it received, while the higher number indicates how long it took to process 93% of the petitions it received. Thus, the range itself indicates how long it took to process roughly 43% of petitions, and the remaining 57% of petitions fall outside the range provided. To further complicate matters, estimated processing times do not always align with the historical processing time data USCIS publishes each quarter, so the time range published monthly on its website serves as a rough guide only.
If an investor feels their I-526 petition is taking longer than average to process, they can enquire about the status of the application. The investor can either ask their EB-5 immigration attorney to follow up on the application, or they can visit the USCIS Case Status Online portal. They can also file a write of mandamus, but this carries risks best discussed with an immigration attorney. Factors that affect I-526 processing times include the complexity of the source-of-funds documentation, the accuracy of the petition, and the investor’s country of origin. For example, more complex sources of funds take longer to verify, while errors in the petition may lead to requests for evidence.