Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

USCIS Releases EB-5 Investor Statistics

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released data on EB-5 filings and regional centers (RCs) for fiscal year (FY) 2010 and the first two quarters of FY 2011.

The agency noted that as of June 30, 2011, there are 147 approved regional centers (RCs) operating in 39 states, including the District of Columbia and Guam. Most (90 to 95 percent) of the individual Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) petitions filed each year are filed by those who are investing in RC-affiliated commercial enterprises. There are 83 initial RC proposals pending at USCIS, and nine RC proposals seeking to amend approved RCs.

USCIS figures continue to show a steep increase in the number of RC filings and EB-5 visa approvals. The agency reported 146 initial RC proposal filings in the first and second quarters of FY 2011, compared to 110 initial filings in all of FY 2010. In the first and second quarters of FY 2011, the agency approved 25 initial RC proposals and denied 11, an approval rate of 69 percent. This was a big increase from FY 2010, when USCIS approved 36 and denied 30 during the entire fiscal year.

USCIS also reported significant increases in individual I-526s and I-829s (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions). In the first and second quarters of FY 2011, USCIS received 1,601 I-526 petitions, compared to 1,955 for all of FY 2010. The increase in the number of I-829 petitions was even more dramatic, with 1,150 received in the first and second quarters. By comparison, USCIS received 768 I-829 petitions in all of FY 2010.

In the first and second quarters of FY 2011, the agency approved 407 I-526 petitions and denied 96, while in all of FY 2010 USCIS approved 1369 and denied 165. USCIS approved 166 I-829 petitions and denied 26 in the first and second quarters, compared to approving 274 and denying 56 for all of FY 2010.

USCIS also reported that although the target processing time for I-526 petitions is 5 months, actual processing times are reaching 5.5 months; however, some in the field have said it is closer to 7 months. USCIS’s target processing time for both initial and amended RC proposals is 4 months; the agency reported current processing times of 4.5 months for initial RC filings but only 1 month for amended filings. For I-829 filings, the agency reports that it is beating its target processing time of 6 months; USCIS said current processing time for I-829 filings is 1 month. USCIS said it strives to finalize EB-5 cases within 30 days after responses to requests for evidence (RFEs) are received.

USCIS is on track to approve a record number of EB-5 visas. Its preliminary estimate is that 2,129 EB-5 visas were issued in the first and second quarters of 2011, compared to 1,885 in all of FY 2010. The previous record was 4,218 EB-5 visas issued in FY 2009.

The next EB-5 “stakeholder engagement” meeting will be held on September 15, 2011, at 1 p.m. This engagement will be an opportunity for USCIS to share information on the EB-5 program and address stakeholders’ related topics of interest. USCIS is specifically interested in receiving topics related to the Form I-912A, Supplement to Form I-924. The deadline to submit agenda items is August 15, 2011. An open forum for questions and answers (non-case-specific) will be provided at the engagement.

See here for details on registering to attend the engagement either in person or by telephone, and instructions on submitting agenda items.

USCIS’s presentation from the most recent engagement is available at this site.

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Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.