USCIS just approved an American Venture Solutions EB-5 investor whose petition had been on September 18, 2017. According to the government’s case processing site, the USCIS is currently handling I-526 petitions filed before January 11, 2017. In doing so, USCIS beat their time estimate by 8 months. (USCIS is publicly predicting a 22 – 28.5 month processing times for I-526s.)
We are thrilled for our Hong Kong-based investor and the faster-than-expected-timeline because it affirms one thing: USCIS team adjudication – IMHO the BEST adjudication methodology possible for the EB-5 program’s particular complexities — continues to work to the benefit of investors. Before USCIS shared that it was using a team approach, the official policy was that cases were processed “FIFO” – as in “first in, first out”, pure chronological order. Recently, I have had many conversations with concerned AVS investors – especially those from Vietnam — asking how it was possible that their friend who invested in a new, unproven project with no history of success got their I-526 approved in a matter of months and their petition with AVS and its sterling record of I-526 and I-829 approvals, excess job creation, and fully divested investors (as of 2018) was languishing at USCIS. The answer I’ve given each is the same: “Team Adjudication”. And this new approval confirms exactly that.
As a former U.S. visa officer who has plowed his way through a forest’s worth of files over the years, I can tell you that the intricacies of understanding and evaluating the legitimacy of an EB-5 project is by far the most complex and daunting adjudication process US case officers have ever handled. Through team adjudication, a group of officers collectively works on all the pending cases for a given project, whether proven or new, and collectively they evaluate all the merits, requirements, and shortcomings. That means that instead of having to absorb the content and credibility of a foot tall stack of documents over and over again with each new case, cases from the same project can be understood collectively, discussed, and decided. The fact that USCIS has not challenged one single aspect of AVS EB-5 projects viability, proven job creation, and compliance is a testament to their understanding of what a solid EB-5 visa package should look like.
Yesterday’s approval almost certainly means that the I-526s of the AVS investor group are now being examined by the assigned team and that more approvals will be forthcoming, A few, like this one, will have been processed much faster than projected; most will have taken longer. AVS investors with long-pending petitions will hopefully find some comfort in knowing that whether it’s sooner or later, it’s nice to know that you’ve invested with a Regional Center which continues to steadily receive approvals from the USCIS!