EB5 Immigration Visa Timeline

An EB-5 Visa is an immigrant visa for foreign investors that allows them to qualify for a green card when they make a $1,050,000 USD investment or $800,000 in a targeted employment area in a U.S. enterprise and create 10 full-time jobs.

The processing times of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services change depending on the number of pending applications and the number of applications filed every year for any visa category. While the EB5 Immigration Visa has been around since 1990, it only gained popularity recently. Notably, the years 2017 - 2019 recorded the most applications filed.

EB-5 Visa Processing Time

As of August 2023, the USCIS processing estimates that the EB5 Visa processing time for Form I-526 petitions ranges between 29.5 to 61 months.

Meanwhile, for investors present in the U.S., who may be eligible to apply to adjust status, the Form I-385 processing time is from 7 to 29 months depending on the service center. As for investors outside of the U.S., the visa processing times take around 6 to 12 months.

As with any visa category, the processing time for an EB5 Visa changes depending on the volume of pending applications and new applications each year.

Elements to consider if EB-5 Visa is the right one for you

Before you go aboard the EB5 Visa ship, you should first check if it's the right visa for your immigration and financial goals. We have highlighted below some things you need to consider if EB5 is the right visa for you:

Financial Capacity

One of the EB5 Visa requirements is that you make at least a minimum investment of $800,000 if the New Commercial Enterprise (NCE) is located in a targeted employment area (TEA) or $1,050,000 if the investment is outside a TEA. Aside from the minimum investment amount, you should also take note:

  • Source of investment funds. You should be able to prove that investment funds came from legitimate source. These sources include income-generating assets or securities, employment earnings, legal settlements, inheritance and loans among others. The USCIS may require you to show proof that can trace the lawful origins of your investment funds.

  • Risk tolerance. All investors know that investment projects come with risk, and the EB5 program is no exception. There may be times that your investment would not yield substantial returns or that there may be partial or total loss of your money. If your primary goal is to immigrate, you should also consider the financial implications an EB5 Visa would entail.

  • Duration of investment. It would take time, even several years, before you expect to see returns from your initial EB5 investment.

Permanent residency

The EB5 Visa confers permanent resident status to foreign investors. This reward, however, still comes with several factors and nuances that you need to consider:

  • Conditional permanent residency and commitment to as a U.S resident. EB5 investors initially receive a 2-year conditional Green Card. Prior to the expiration of the conditional two year period, a petition for removal of conditions will have to be filed. in adjudicating the petition to remove the conditions, USCIS will verify whether your investment created the required number of jobs. After being a permanent resident for at least five years, you may be eligible to apply for naturalization. Before becoming a permanent resident through the EB-5 program, it is highly recommended for you to have a tax planning session.

  • Integration to U.S. society, culture, and education. While this may seem emotional, it's still one of the key considerations you should think about. After successfully becoming a permanent resident, you'll have to live a life in the U.S.

Waiting periods

As of September 2023, the EB5 Visa wait time is marked as "Current" which means no backlog and no retrogression. Moreover, the general wait times for anyone filing an EB5 Visa application are as follows:

  • I-526: 31 - 50 months

  • I-485: varies depending on the service center

  • DS-260 (if in home country) - From the National Visa Center or Consulate, it will take them 30 - 45 days after receiving the USCIS approval to provide instruction on the next steps. They would then usually schedule an interview within 60 - 90 days, if the priority date is current.

  • I-829: 22 - 48.5 months

I-526 Overview and Processing Time

Form I-526, also called Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor, is filed for you to be able to move forward and obtain a conditional green card from the USCIS. Its processing time varies on the complexity of your case and how busy the service center is. The wait period is from 31 - 50 months, but it could be shorter or longer.

DS-260 and I-485 Overview and Processing Time

A DS-260, on the other hand, is required to initiate the immigrant visa process. Foreign investors who are not yet in the U.S. have to file a DS-260 application upon approval of their I-526 so they can obtain an immigrant visa that will allow him or her to enter the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident. The DS-260 is completed and filed online. Depending on the U.S. consulate or embassy, the interview will be scheduled within 60 to 90 days, if the priority is "Current".

If you're already in the U.S. on a valid nonimmigrant visa and your I-526 priority date is current, then you may file Form I-485, also called the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

I-829 Overview and Processing Time

An I-829 application, on the other hand, is the final step of an EB5 Visa process for immigrant investors to become lawful permanent residents of the U.S. Once it's approved, the conditional residency of the investor including their family members, is removed so that they can live in the U.S. permanently. This takes about 22 - 48.5 months.

An EB5 investor can file the petition with the USCIS 90 days before the end of their 2-year conditional permanent status period, and their conditional residency is extended while the I-829 application is in progress.

Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of status refers to when you adjust from a non-immigrant status to an immigrant status in the U.S. To process the adjustment of your status, various conditions must be present. First, you are lawfully present in the U.S. under a valid nonimmigrant visa. Finally, you must file a Form I-485, which takes 6 to 8 months to process.

Consular Processing

Consular processing, on the other hand, refers to the process of applying for an EB5 Visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. You would need to file a Form DS-160 online to begin this process. The appropriate U.S. consulate or embassy will then review your documents and schedule you for an interview. Once successful, you will be granted an EB5 Visa within a week.

Factors that affect EB-5 Visa processing time

Several factors affect the processing of an EB5 Visa, and we've highlighted them below:

  • Higher demand but limited visas available per year. There are only 10, 000 EB5 visas available globally each year but the recent years have experienced a climb in the number of applicants for an EB5 visa. There are more people filing petitions which creates backlogs and increases wait times due to the limited EB5 Visa quota. Moreover, a spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 joining the process can cause an increase in the increase of petitions adjudicated. Occasionally, there would be imposed cutoff dates to limit investors from backlogged countries from applying for and receiving their conditional green cards. However, this means that investors from backlogged countries may wait several more years compared to investors from countries with lower demand.

  • The location where the investor applied. The processing time can also be affected depending on the location where the investor applied for the petition. Investors lawfully residing in the U.S. at the time of their application take a slightly different route than those living abroad. There are varying processing times for investors who file Form I-485 to gain conditional residency status and for EB5 investors outside of the U.S. filing Form DS-260.

  • Expedited processing. The USCIS may grant an expedited status for a new commercial enterprise that meets certain criteria such as when the enterprise promotes the urgent interests of the U.S. government. This can reduce the processing times from a year to an average of 4 to 10 months.

Conclusion

The EB5 Visa is a great and powerful option for investors and entrepreneurs who are looking forward to starting their enterprise or investing in an accredited project in the U.S., and at the same time, gain a lawful permanent residence in the said country. Since it's a powerful option for foreign investors, it has gained popularity in recent years, which has contributed to longer waiting times. It's important to take note of the processing times for an EB5 Visa as it may later on prejudice your conditional green card or capital redeployment.

If you're unsure of what steps to take, an experienced immigration attorney from Davies & Associates can help you check which visa is the right one for your immigration and financial goals. You can also check our EB5 Visa cost article for you to know how much you need to prepare for an EB5 Visa.

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Jeremy Abernathy
Jeremy Abernathy
a month ago

I had the pleasure of working with Verdie and Nessa to obtain my E2 Visa. Their in-depth knowledge and experience allowed me to be fully prepared in my application and they were able to answer all questions leading up to the Visa interview.

Saeed Muhammad
Saeed Muhammad
2 months ago

Verdie was an amazing attorney, providing exceptional client care throughout the process. He had a great depth of knowledge in all areas on business visas in the US.

hoshino ryuichi
hoshino ryuichi
5 months ago

Thanks to them for handling my E2 visa very professionally. I had a study visa from F1 and changed it to E2. I encountered many problems during the application process. Verdie and Etta were very patient in helping me and it took a long time. I highly recommend this place.

Satyabrat Chowdhury
Satyabrat Chowdhury
5 months ago

I had a great experience with Davies & Associates. They are very thorough in the approach and their have experts in this field who know the domain very well.I would certainly be leaning onto them for any future needs as well.

Jimmi Batth
Jimmi Batth
2 weeks ago

everyone helped me alot in my application especially Verdie and Etta and mark. answered all my questions, prepared my application very organised. EXCELLANT TEAM.

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