US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the outcome of its biennial fee review earlier this month. Form I-526 – Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor – will be subject to a price increase. The form, which is the first step of the EB-5 application process, will increase to $4,010 from October. This represents a 9% increase on the current price of $3675.
An increase in the minimum investment amount last November is the principle reason for the large increase. At that time, the minimum investment requirement almost doubled from $500,000 to $900,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and from $1 million to $1.8 million outside of a TEA.
USCIS argues that the increased investment amount means that the Source of Funds work – critical to an I-526 adjudication – has become more complicated, resulting in additional work for the agency. Complicated source of funds often need to go through a managerial review, adding extra cost.
While the price increase is partly to reflect the increased workload for USCIS case officers, there is another reason behind this. The review states that USCIS significantly “overestimated” demand for EB-5, which will lead to a budget shortfall. USCIS is almost entirely fee funded, which makes this especially problematic.
The reason for the overestimation is that demand was calculated before the minimum investment amount increased last November. That increase has dampened demand and the cost of the I-526 has been increased to mitigate that.
The I-829 Form – the Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residency Status – has registered a more modest 4% price increase. This form comes later in the EB-5 process when an investor is eligible to remove the conditions on their Green Card. The new price of an I-829 is $3,900.
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