Roughly six months ago we provided you with DHS’ Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division Charles Oppenheim’s EB-5 quota backlog projections. The numbers provided key insights for many, especially those weighing EB-5 who have children that might “age out” due to long visa queues. Today Mr. Oppenheim provided an important update.

By way of background, about 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available to investors and their dependents each year. Because more than 10,000 are requested annually, the Immigration and Nationality Act caps the amount available to a given country’s natives at 7%.This means that a Canadian citizen born in Beijing is currently subject to the EB-5 backlog, while a Canadian citizen born in Montreal is not.

Oppenheim’s methodology required calculating the approximate number of individuals chargeable to the most active EB-5 countries with pending Forms I-526 and adding that number to the approximate number of individuals waiting for a Green Card after approval (e.g. processing through the National Visa Center). By dividing this figure by the country-specific annual quota, one can make the most informed (yet imperfect) projection as to anticipated wait times.

Furthermore, for any “extra visas” where the addition of all countries not subject to the 7% limit together is less than 10,000, those are accordingly to be applied by priority date. Given China’s historical dominance of the program and its unique position among backlogged countries, those visas will be allocated to Mainland-born investors for the foreseeable future. Consequently, as EB-5 popularity grows in other countries, Chinese investors in this queue disproportionately bear the effects of increased demand compared to their Vietnamese counterparts.

Oppenheim provided an update as part of the Invest in the USA (IIUSA) 2019 EB-5 Advocacy Conference and Industry Awards, held in Washington, D.C. The trends are striking for prospective investors and those awaiting a visa to become available alike:

Country

Stated Approximate Wait Time (in years) to Receive a Green Card if Form I-526 Petition was Filed on October 30, 2018

Stated Approximate Wait Time (in years) to Receive a Green Card if Form I-526 Petition was Filed on May 6, 2019

Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)

14

16.5

Vietnam

7.2

7.6

India

5.7

8.4

South Korea

2.2

2.4 (largely within published I-526 processing times)

Taiwan

1.7

2 (largely within published I-526 processing times)

Brazil

1.5

1.8 (largely within published I-526 processing times)

Rest of world

Expected to be “Current” for Foreseeable future

Same

The headline-grabbing projection will be India’s wait time spiking from 5.7 to 8.4 years in such a short period of time. However, as we have explained before, with Indian wait times in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories extending to perhaps longer than a human being’s lifespan, EB-5 (and where available, EB-1) may be the only viable employment-based option to immigrate to the U.S., notwithstanding both categories beginning to backlog.

Vietnam, interestingly, has not increased its backlog nearly as sharply since October. The remaining countries on the cusp of retrogression (Taiwan, S. Korea, Brazil) are likely to suffer only minor quota backlogs barring a major shift in demand due to long Form I-526 processing times. These investors may perhaps not notice any delay in their immigration should demand remain steady.

Perhaps as equally important as the backlog projections was Mr. Oppenheim’s predictions for the monthly Visa Bulletins in the rest of the Fiscal Year and the beginning of next. He offered key insights as to what to expect for the remainder of FY 2019 and into FY 2020:

  • P.R. China: The JulyVisa Bulletin will advance to October 1, 2014 for Mainland China.Charlie predicts that this date will likely not advance for the rest of the year unless the Rest of the World demand goes down significantly. In October (i.e. the start of FY 2020), China’s“best-case” scenario would be an October 15, 2014 final action date and its “worst-case” scenario would be an October 8, 2014 final action date.
  • Vietnam: The July Visa Bulletin will advance to October 1, 2016 for Vietnam.Vietnam will hit its annual limit thereafter, upon which it will revert to China’s date. In October, Vietnam’s best-case scenario will be a December 15, 2016 final action date and its worst-case scenario would be a November 22, 2016 final action date.
  • India: Contrary to some back-and-forth on this issue, India will likely hit its annual limit in late June or early July. It is possible that the July Visa Bulletin will have a final action date in 2017, but Mr. Oppenheim may instead establish a cutoff equal to China’s final action date. In October India will face a 2017 final action date with Fall being the best-case scenario and Summer being the worst-case scenario.
  • South Korea, Taiwan, and Brazil will not backlog in FY 2019. They will each be current in October.