June 8, 2020 – To predict the processing time of an I-526 petition is not a simple matter. The USCIS website gives a wide range of how long it takes to process a case (between 29.5 months and 44.5 months, as of today). While the rule of “first in, first out” is generally how a case should proceed, the reality is not so simple. In fact, several factors can explain why an I-526 petition takes longer (or shorter) time to be adjudicated:
Request for Evidence
A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a letter sent by the USCIS asking for additional information or document when it was determined that one or many program eligibility conditions were not established by the petitioner. Generally, the RFE will raise deficiencies regarding the petitioner’s lawful source of funds (where is the $900,000 investment + management fee come from?) or the EB-5 project itself. The USCIS generally gives a delay of 3 months (if the petitioner resides in the United States) to 3 months and 1 week (if the petitioner residences outside the United States) to submit a response. Therefore, depending on how fast the petitioner, his attorney and/or the project principals are in preparing the response, this can have a major impact on the processing time of the I-526 petition.
Country of Petitioner
According to the new way of managing the EB-5 petitions, the USCIS will priority the I-526 petitions from petitioner who are chargeable to countries with available visas (or soon to be available). For instance, if the petitioner is chargeable to Vietnam (a country in retrogression), his I-526 petition may take longer time to process than a petition of an investor chargeable to the U.K. even if both petitions were submitted on the very same day.
The USCIS adjudicator may take longer time to decide on a given case depending on its complexity. The case can be considered “complex”, when the petitioner’s funds is from numerous or complex sources (such as working income earned over a long period of time) or when the project transaction involves several parties.