The I-526 petition can be roughly divided into two parts: information about the investor and information about the project. Even if the project information is identical in two petitions, the investors’ circumstances are usually unique. I-526 petition processing times are affected by several factors, including sources of funding, the investor’s country of origin, the accuracy of the Form I-526 submission, and even the adjudicator’s approach.
Proving that the EB-5 investment funds belong to the investor and were legally obtained is a vital part of the I-526 petition. The more complex the source-of-funds documentation, the longer it takes to verify the information. Additionally, in March 2020, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) moved from processing I-526 petitions on a first-come, first-served basis to processing them based on visa availability. Therefore, whether the petition is processed depends on the availability of visas for applicants from the petitioner’s country of origin. If the I-526 petition submitted contained errors or points that need to be clarified, USCIS will likely issue a request for evidence (RFE). The RFE process further slows down adjudication. Finally, adjudicators have different approaches to their work, so some take longer than others to adjudicate petitions.
To determine whether I-526 processing has been delayed, the investor can use the USCIS Case Status Online tool to track the status of their application, or they can ask their EB-5 immigration attorney to check the status of their case. The Check Case Processing Times page also provides a rough estimate of how long USCIS is taking to process I-526 petitions.
In some cases, there is no clear reason why I-526 processing has been delayed. If petition processing has been unreasonably delayed, the investor’s options include filing a writ of mandamus to compel USCIS to adjudicate the petition, but that carries risks. These risks include the petition being denied without an RFE if it contains errors.