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Oppenheim Stuns Audience with Backlog Projections

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Oppenheim Stuns Audience with Backlog Projections

April 23, 2018Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Controls Office at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) gave a keynote address to Employment-Based Fifth preference (EB-5) stakeholders during IIUSA’s 13th Annual Membership Meeting and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

Oppenheim stunned the audience forecasting the addition of 3 countries to the EB-5 backlog in FY18/FY19. Countries expected to join the list include India at a projected 5 year backlog, Brazil and South Korea at 2 years. The published May 2018 Visa Bulletin already includes a backlog for China and retrogresses Vietnam, marking Vietnam’s first backlog entry in the category.    

Due to continued heavy applicant demand, DOS imposed a final action date of July 22, 2014 for Vietnam in the upcoming May 2018 Visa Bulletin, which will be in place for the remainder of the fiscal year - through September 30 of 2018.  Oppenheim currently projects a 6 year backlog for the Vietnam EB-5 preference category.

In addition, Oppenheim estimates only 5,500 surplus visas will be available to China in FY19 leading to a 15 year backlog, much higher than the previously estimated 10 years.  In both FY16 and FY17, China was issued approximately 7,500 visas.

This keynote address comes at a critical time for the EB-5 industry, as DOS sees additional visas allocated to an ever diversified group of countries in emerging markets and the queue for visas continues to grow. Many investors in China regret not making an application before the decades-long wait. Investors in Vietnam, India, Brazil, and South Korea 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, with a per-country limit set at 7%, approximately 700.