The State Department issued EB-5 visa availability projections in their March 2014 Visa Bulletin which did not contain any mentions of retrogression of the EB-5 visa category. The EB-5 visa category is listed as “Current” under section E “Visa Availability in the Coming Months” without any mention of a possible cut-off date being established. This is similar to the situation which occurred approximately 14 months, when the State Department issued a preliminary warning in December 2012 that it would establish a cut-off date for Chinese nationals in the EB-5 visa category, only to reverse itself two months later.
The Chief of Immigrant Control & Reporting of the State Department, Charlie W. Oppenheim, spoke to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and described the demand for EB-5 visas as “manageable.” Mr. Oppenheim expects to provide another update on whether a possible cut-off is necessary in the June or July 2014 Visa Bulletins. It is important to note that Mr. Oppenheim noted that EB-5 visa demand increases during the summer months and in the past two fiscal years, almost one-third of EB-5 visas were used during the period from July to September. This indicates that individuals with approved I-526 Petitions should not wait until these “busy” months to apply for a visa, and instead should apply as soon as possible after receiving I-526 Petition approval. This would reduce the likelihood of any issues with retrogression affecting an individual’s EB-5 visa.
This news is consistent with our prior posts which warned that EB-5 investors should think hard before delaying the filing of an I-526 Petition or taking any other actions directly related to the possibility of EB-5 retrogression. Furthermore, USCIS predicted on its stakeholder call there will be a slowdown in I-526 Petition processing times in the coming months as the transition to the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IIPO) continues. This coupled with the March 2014 Visa Bulletin indicates a likelihood that EB-5 visa retrogression will not occur this fiscal year.