The US government recently announced that more than 7600 people received visas to the USA under the Employment Based Fifth Preference category (“EB-5”), in the period from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012. There is an annual limit of 10,000 EB-5 visas. More than 70% of all EB-5 visas are issued to people born in Mainland China.
With continued high demand for EB-5 visas, the US Department of State is predicting that the annual limit of 10,000 EB-5 visas will be reached sometime between April 1, 2013 and September 30, 2013. See http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5803.html If the limit is reached, the US Department of State will establish a “Cut Off Date” for the EB-5 program for people born in Mainland China. This means that the US Department of State will issue visas first for those investors with the oldest cases, according to each investor’s “Priority Date.” An investor obtains a “Priority Date” once his or her Form I-526 Immigrant Visa Petition has been approved. The “Priority Date” is the date the investor’s Form I-526 Immigrant Visa Petition was filed. Investors born in Mainland China with older Priority Dates will be issued visas to immigrate to the USA faster than Investors born in Mainland China with more recent Priority Dates.
The EB-5 process includes three major steps:
Step 1: The EB-5 petition (filed on Form I-526)
Step 2: The EB-5 visa (filed on Form DS-230)
Step 3: The EB-5 green card renewal (filed on Form I-829)
If the US Department of State establishes a “Cut Off Date” for the EB-5 program for investors born in Mainland China, there will be no impact of the ability of such people to continue to file and receive approval for Step 1: I-526 petitions and Step 3: I-829 petitions. There is no limit on the number of EB-5 petitions (Step 1: Form I-526) and EB-5 green card renewals (Step 3: Form I-829) that may be filed or approved each year. Rather, the 10,000 annual limit is imposed on the number of Step 2: EB-5 visas that are issued each year.
We expect that the processing time for EB-5 petitions (Step 1: Form I-526) and EB-5 green card renewals (Step 3: Form I-829) will not change nor will any new requirements be imposed. We do expect that the processing time for EB-5 visas (Step 2: Form DS-230) may become longer, but no new requirements will be imposed.