Latest USCIS EB-5 Update = Get Busy Filing Your I-526s, Vietnam!

Hi, AVS Vietnam Investor Family and Friends!  I hope everyone had a great Hung Kings’ Temple Festival holiday on Wednesday; I know you have more holidays coming up next week but I wanted to post this since its important.

As I’ve mentioned many times over the years, no one understands the dynamics of visa retrogression and priority date movement more than Charlie Oppenheim, the Chief of the Visa Contols office at the U.S. Department of State.   On Monday, he was the keynote speaker at the annual IIUSA event, which I did not attend.  A number of EB-5 experts have blogged about his comments but, as always, the most comprehensive and useful summary is the one prepared by EB-5 business plan writer Suzanne Lazicki.   

A REMINDER: backlog predictions – even those by the venerable Mr. Oppenheimer – are static “snapshots” based on TODAY’S known data and projections of EB-5 visa demand.  The interplay of visa allocations across the spectrum of all U.S. immigrant visa categories, per-country allocation rules and the anticipated regulatory reforms to the EB-5 program make even the BEST predictions unreliable.  The takeaway for Vietnamese investors is simple:  INVEST NOW for the dual purpose of:

  1. getting your family’s I-526 priority date locked up ASAP to minimize the future wait for visa availability and
  2. making sure you invest before the $500,000 threshold is dramatically increased, as expected in the near future.

Key takeaways from Mr. Oppenheim’s comments based on Suzanne’s detailed article and other notes from reputable EB-5 experts who’ve also blogged this week:

  • Several weeks ago, the May Visa Bulletin finally added Vietnam to the EB-5 backlog, becoming the second country after China to use up its allocated annual supply of EB-5 slots.  Mr. Oppenheim predicts that three more countries will hit the EB-5 backlog in FY18/FY19, which begins this coming October 1: India, Brazil and South Korea.  He also expects Taiwan to hit it in the near future.
  • He predicts that if country-specific EB-5 usage patterns hold, the China EB-5 backlog – generally estimated at 10 years these days – could become a 15 year wait.
  • For Vietnam, based on usage patterns, he predicts a 6 year wait. 

[An important note on that last one: when a country hits its annual limit, as China did years ago and Vietnam did this month, visas to persons pending from backlogged EB-5 countries become available based on priority dates; the longer a case has been pending, the farther ahead it is in the queue for any “leftover” visas (i.e., visas not used by other countries, which get distributed to those in the backlog.)  This means that Vietnamese investors filing now who are subject to the cap will be getting in queue behind the Chinese EB-5 investors who filed in the past and have earlier priority dates.  Mr. Oppenheim’s 6 year prediction for Vietnamese investors is, again, his best guess based on today’s “snapshot” of visa allocation and EB-5 per-country demand.  But the reality is that we are in a very dynamic moment in EB-5 history: besides the imminent regulatory reforms which will change many specifics about the EB-5 Regional Center program (and could potentially disqualify the vast majority of mega-projects relying on false TEA status), other factors such as  disruptions in the demand for other visa categories and I-526 petition withdrawals from exasperated Chinese investors unwilling to wait a decade and a half could potentially make the wait much shorter for Vietnamese EB-5 investors.  Whatever happens, the safest thing to do is STILL to invest and file the I-526 ASAP if you are from Vietnam.]

  • USCIS has sped up on the processing of I-526s but even so, last fiscal year there were 25% more applications than in the prior fiscal year.
  • More and more people who are NOT from China are applying for EB-5 investor visas; since the Chinese backlog relief relies on “leftover visas” – that is, EB-5 slots which go unused by other countries – the more this happens, the longer the Chinese backlog.

There is STILL short window of time for Vietnamese EB-5 investors to choose a bullet-proof, proven, TRUE TEA EB-5 project for their families’ US future under the current favorable EB-5 Regional Center terms.  Choose wisely! 

We’ll keep you posted, enjoy your well deserved holidays!