New data showing I-526 and I-829 application, approval, denial, and pending numbers from USCIS* has been released. As shown in the above graph, we can see that ‘new petitions received’ (blue) hit a high in 2015-2016 and has decreased since ending in a 50% reduction in 2017 – 2018 new petitions. This will be celebrated by those investors that are already in a backlog and waiting for their conditional green card to be issued.
This decrease in new petitions won’t be welcomed from other parties. In particular, regional centers and developers who were cashing in on investment immigrants. This could be the signs of a maturing industry. Expect to see smaller regional centers leave the market as raising financing through EB-5 becomes too difficult and too costly.
2018 also saw an increase in USCIS’s efficiency and resulted in the highest number of I-526 processed ever. This is again good news for investors, but would likely not affect the waiting time for those already in a retrogressed country. This is because retrogression is not based on I-526 approvals but the actual conditional green card issued.
The high level of I-526 processing, coupled with the decrease in petitions received means that outstanding I-526 applications, yet to be processed is at a 4 year low of 14,394.
2018 I-526 Application Statistics
The only other factor to note is that denial rates nearly doubled from 298 in Quarter 1 to 529 in Quarter 4. Keep in mind these would have been applications made in the 2016, early 2017 period and we can only speculate why these applications were denied. This denial rate will make some investors nervous who invested in the same period. Newer investors would hope it isn’t a continuing trend into the 2019 fiscal year
*USCIS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is the governing body responsible for the processing of EB-5 petitions like the I-526 and I-829
For more information on I-526 approval numbers, review the ‘approval rates throughout the years’ article https://eb-5investments.com/eb-5-i-526-approval