On August 23, 2014, at the 2014 AILA EB-5 Investors & Regional Centers Conference in Chicago, Charles Oppenheim (Chief of Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting) announced that due to an uptick in demand the China EB-5 visa category is “Unavailable” effective immediately, meaning that there will be no more EB-5 visa issued for Chinese nationals the rest of fiscal year 2014 (until the end of September). There are several important details to keep in mind:
- Numbers for August and September have already been allocated so scheduled interviews will proceed. In this context, "Unavailable" means that no additional numbers are available for "comeback" cases originally scheduled for interview in an earlier month who are just now returning, or for those first requesting an interview.
- Chinese investors who are already in the United States and eligible to adjust status will be able to file adjustment applications in August and September. However, instead of being acted upon immediately, those cases will be held in the Visa Office's "Pending Demand" file until October 1, 2014. At that time, all eligible cases will be automatically authorized from the "Pending Demand" file under the FY-2015 annual numerical limitation. Each USCIS requesting office will receive an e-mail notification of such authorizations, which will be effective immediately.
Mr. Oppenheim predicts that visa numbers will be available again at the start of FY 2015 (October 1) but that the category will retrogress in May or June of 2015. In other words, the EB-5 category will likely be current from November 2014 to May or June of 2015 at which point Mr. Oppenheim will have to set a cut-off date. He will most likely set the cut-off date somewhere between June and September 2013. This means only investors with priority dates (filing dates) of on or before June or September 2013 will be eligible for immigrant visas. In short, we are looking at wait times of about 24 months after approval to obtain a visa. Mr. Oppenheim predicts that the category will not be current again in October 2015 and that the category is pretty much guaranteed to remain retrogressed in 2015 and 2016 with cut-off dates in 2014.