With the news that certain countries are experiencing an EB-5 visa backlog, many current and potential applicants are confused as to what causes these backlogs and what they mean. Visa retrogression, the term used to describe visa backlog, can affect any country or region.

Ultimately, visa retrogression refers to the waiting list type process that occurs when the number of visa applications in a preference category exceeds the number of available visas. Immigration laws dictate that no country may surpass a certain percentage of the approved visas issued in any specific category per year. Due to these laws, when visa quotas are met, per month or per quarter, the remaining visa applications are put on hold. As more applications are received, the processing time for each new wave of applications increases slightly.

Once your visa application has been received, a priority date (generally, the date the application is received by USCIS) is created and this date dictates when you are able to continue your visa petition process. When visa retrogression occurs, priority dates are pushed back and often cause significant delays in the visa approval process. For countries where retrogression has happened, it can add years onto the initial visa processing times.

Both India and China are currently facing an EB-5 visa retrogression. If you are a foreign national from either of these countries, you may be waiting for years longer than anticipated for your EB-5 investor visa priority date to be made current. With the EB-5 visa increase on its way, EB-5 applicants in these countries are hopeful that the new regulations will help visa processing times speed up and eventually shorten the amount of time applicants must be waitlisted.

Visa processing times fluctuate depending on the number of visas issued and, unfortunately, there is no way to predict whether waiting times will increase or decrease. For an update on processing times, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for the most current Visa Bulletin (released every month). In spite of the delays that visa retrogression might cause, due to these fluctuations, it is still advisable to apply for the EB-5 visa as soon as possible. The sooner the application is received by USCIS, the higher the priority date and the more likely an applicant is to reach their priority date in a timely manner.

Interested in learning more about the EB-5 investor visa and how it can be of benefit to you and your family? Click here for an EB-5 visa breakdown.