USCIS Modernizes Approach to Managing Form I-526 Petition Inventory


In this blog post, we close out the week with some great news that may be of interest to EB-5 Immigrant Investors.

On Tuesday July 18th the U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new changes to the processing of Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, for EB-5 investment to improve processing times and create greater efficiency.

How Will USCIS Process I-526 Petitions?

The USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) manages Form I-526 petition inventory through workflow queues factoring in whether: a visa is available (or will be available soon) and the underlying project has been reviewed.

Workflow queues are generally managed in first-in, first-out (FIFO) order when a visa is available or will be available soon.

Effective July 18, 2023, IPO will update its approach by grouping petitions by new commercial enterprise (NCE) with filing dates on or before November 30, 2019, within the workflow queue of petitions where the project has been reviewed and there is a visa available or soon to be available, to gain greater processing efficiencies.

In practice this means that multiple petitions with the same new commercial enterprise (NCE) will be assigned to the same adjudicator(s) to help process them more quickly. This is because multiple petitions associated with the same NCE will have an overlap in project documents and issues presented.

This approach will help reduce current EB-5 backlogs, that are stretching to a 4 to 5 year waiting period from date of filing.

New Processing System

Under the new inventory management approach, IPO determines visa availability and queues up the Form I-526 inventory into three workflows on a monthly basis

  • The first queue contains Form I-526 petitions where a visa is not yet available and not soon to be available and is ordered first-in, first-out.
  • The second queue contains petitions related to projects that IPO has not previously reviewed and have a visa immediately available or soon to be available. IPO reviews projects in the second queue in order from oldest to newest.
  • The third queue contains Form I-526 petitions that have an available (or soon to be available) visa and either a reviewed project or “non-pooled” (single investor) standalone project. This queue is organized by receipt date of the Form I-526 petition (from oldest to newest). This is the queue from which Form I-526 petitions are assigned to officers for adjudication. Form I-526 petitions have generally been assigned to officers in first-in, first-out order.

IPO will group petitions by NCE with filing dates on or before Nov. 30, 2019, within the third queue. These petitions will be assigned by NCE using a first-in, first-out methodology, namely, by date of the earliest filed petition in that queue for each NCE.

According to USCIS, given the large volume of petitions filed shortly before the EB-5 modernization rule had taken effect in November 2019, and because the project documents are often the same, assigning multiple petitions associated with the same NCE to the same adjudicator(s) will enable IPO to gain greater processing efficiencies, reduce the backlog and Form I-526 completion times, and support consistency and accuracy in adjudications.

For more information regarding these changes please click here.

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