Charlie Oppenheim Shares EB-5 Visa Projections - India Surpasses Vietnam Wait
On Monday, May 6, 2019 – Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) gave a guest of honor address to Employment-Based Fifth preference (EB-5) stakeholders during the IIUSA Advocacy Conference in Washington DC, the US Capital.
In the first 7 months of Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018 - April 2019), DOS issued approximately half (5,077) of the of the 10,075 total EB-5 preference visas available (up from 9,602 visas distributed in FY18). Oppenheim noted visa issuance has lagged slightly due to the government shutdown earlier this year.
In FY19 there will be approximately 3,660 visas available to Chinese, about 1,000 fewer than last year’s 4,642 visas. This is a continual decline from the approximately 7,500 visas issued in the preceding 2 fiscal years.
In July, China’s Final Action date is expected to advance from September 22, 2014, to October 1, 2014. Between now and September 2019, China born applicants may see a few additional days of advancement but less than projected earlier this fiscal year. On October 1, 2019, when FY20 visas are released, the priority date for China is expected to be October 8, 2014 (best case October 15, 2014).
The wait for a Chinese petitioner filing today is estimated to be 16.5 years, up from 14 years estimated earlier this fiscal year. I anticipate this wait will continue to grow as global demand reduces the number of visas available to China.
There are approximately 3 years remaining on the China Student Protection Act which annually deducts 700 visas from the China EB-5 preference pool.
In June or July of 2019, India is expected to backlog for the first time in the history of the EB-5 program. Oppenheim maintains that India will likely use its full 2019 visa quota. Visas are currently available to Indians with any priority date. Once the backlog begins, the priority date is expected to retrogress to a date in 2017. This means only those who filed I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur 2017 and earlier, would have visas available. In October, when FY20 visas are released, the priority date for India is expected to be Summer 2017.
The wait for Indian born nationals filing today is projected to be 8.4 years (up from 5.4 years in October) from I-526 filing to visa availability. This surpasses the wait of Vietnamese investors and now places India at the 2nd longest wait. Between October and April it is anticipated about 1,837 investors and dependents entered the wait queue for visas.
Since October 1, 2018, the priority date for eligible Vietnam visa applicants has advanced over 8 months, from January 1, 2016 to September 22, 2016. This was slightly greater than the anticipated advancement.
In the July visa bulletin, Vietnam’s Final Action is expected to advance to October 1, 2016. In August, Vietnam will likely exhaust all visas. On October 1, 2019, when FY20 visas are released, the priority date for Vietnam is expected to be November 22, 2016 (best case December 15, 2016).
The wait for a Vietnamese petitioner filing today is estimated to be 7.6 years, remaining stable from the estimate earlier this year.
In April of 2018, Oppenheim stunned the audience forecasting a backlog for Brazil and South Korea in FY19. Many speculated Taiwan could soon be added to that list based on the large number of I-526 petitions pending adjudication at USCIS. We are pleased to announce that all 3 countries will remain current for the duration of FY19. If I-526 processing times decrease in 2020, we may see South Korea retrogress to 2.4 years wait.
Rest of the World
The rest of the world will remain current in FY19.
In 2015 China quickly backlogged with Vietnam following in 2018 and India soon in 2019. All 3 counties are now over a 7 year wait. Investors in Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan considering EB-5 as a path to US Permanent Residence should act now to secure an early priority date.
DOS is responsible for administering provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) relating to numerical limitations on immigrant visa issuance, including the per-country annual limit. DOS imposes final action dates on countries in oversubscribed preferences and those preferences likely to become oversubscribed to ensure all visas are properly utilized. The EB-5 preference is limited to 7.1% of the worldwide level, approximately 10,000 annually, with a per-country limit set at 7%, approximately 700.