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【ARCFE Blog】 POSITIVE EB-5 OUTLOOK: NO BACKLOG EXPECTED

As the FY2024 reaches its midpoint, the U.S. immigration authorities have noted significant improvements in addressing delays in processing times for EB-5 applications. Efforts have been made to minimize retrogression for applicants of the EB-5 program for the remainder of the fiscal year. These improvements include: faster processing time, electronic petition transmission, prompt applicant responses, stable final action dates for set aside categories, and strategic visa number allocation. Recently, the Department of State (DOS) has announced that it does not anticipate any filing or final action date to retrogress for any EB-5 visa categories or applications from specific countries of origins.


Dates Remain "CURRENT" for All EB-5 Visa Set Aside Categories

Source: U.S. DOS - August 2024 Visa Bulletin - Chart A (trave.state.gov)


Key Takeaways From the DOS's Data

  1. DOS expects all Unreserved visas to be fully used in FY2024.

  2. Nearly 40,000 EB-5 applicants registered at the NVC and are awaiting an EB-5 visa.

  3. Over 330 post-RIA investors registered at the NVC, encompassing approved Set Aside petitions for Rural, High-Unemployment Area (HUA) and multi-categories.

  4. Set Aside EB-5 visas began to be used in FY2024 for both Rural and HUA categories.

  5. EB-5 applicants are responding more promptly to submit required documents and the scheduling of EB-5 interviews is faster in FY2024.

  6. Final Action Dates will remain "CURRENT" for all EB-5 Set Aside categories during the remainder of FY2024 and likely throughout FY2025.

  7. The EB-5 Unreserved cut-off dates for China and India are expected to remain unchanged for the remainder of FY2024.

  8. Set Aside categories' investors with dual approval from USCIS must choose only 1 category for EB-5 visa processing.

  9. EB-5 petitions are now transmitted electronically between USCIS and the NVC, significantly reducing the turnaround time for inter-agency processing.

  10. Carryover visa numbers will be utilized prior to regular EB-5 visa numbers to maximized visa availability.

Source: IIUSA's 2024 Industry Forum


Final Action Dates to Remain "CURRENT" for Remaining of FY2024
and Likely Throughout FY2025

With over 8,130 visas available for the EB-5 Set Aside categories this fiscal year, the DOS expected to keep the dates "CURRENT" for all three categories worldwide for the remainder of FY2024. For FY2025, DOS anticipate that there will be at least 6,839 EB-5 visas available for the Set Aside categories, with the actual number will most likely will be higher. Despite USCIS accelerating its productivity in adjudicating Set Aside I-526/I-526E cases, it typically takes 5-8 months between case creation at the NVC and visa issuance. Consequently, no cut-off dates are expected for any Set Aside categories for at least the first half of FY2025. Whether a Final Action Date is required in the latter part of FY2025 will depend on several factors:


  • How quickly USCIS adjudicates the Set Aside I-526/I-526E cases and how many of those Set Aside cases will be approved.

  • How promptly applicants submit all required documents and schedule visa interviews when they reach the visa processing stage.

  • Which visa category applicants choose for visa processing if they are approved for multiple categories.

Improved Processing Time for EB-5 Petition

USCIS is making notable progress in improving processing times for Forms I-956F and I-526E. Some I-956F approvals are now coming through within just a few months of filing, regardless of whether the project is High-Unemployment Area (HUA, also often referred to as urban projects) or Rural—our ARCFE Group 15 (Dutch Kills) HUA project was approved in only seven months. Additionally, I-526E cases are also being processed swiftly, with one of our investors receiving approval in less than a month following the project's I-956F approval, and many others receiving approvals within several months after.



Proving that the investment capital comes from a clean source is one of the most critical parts of the I-526E petition for EB-5. The best way to swiftly obtain I-526E approval is by providing a clear and simple source of funds. This approach ensures that the financial documentation is straightforward, reducing the likelihood of delays during the review process.


For petitions filed before EB-5 RIA 2022, as of Q2/2024,1,874 have been completed, while 6,666 remain pending. Processing times for these forms have decreased by an average of 52.5 months, a significant improvement compared to the 89.5 months it typically takes USCIS to process these cases.


We hope to see similar improvements in processing times for other petitions like the I-829. Streamlined processing across all petition types will greatly benefit investors and enhance the overall efficiency of the EB-5 program.


New Visa Allocation Process: Will It Solve the Backlog Problem?

For investors filing the I-526E petition through a TEA-qualified project under the EB-5 Reform & Integrity Act of 2022 (EB-5 RIA 2022), their Approval Notice will indicate approval for two categories: (1) Unreserved category and (2) the applicable Set Aside category. At the stage of obtaining the visa, investors will need to choose one of these categories to proceed. Below is a picture of an ARCFE investor's approval notice.



RU-6 represents the regional center category within the Unreserved visa category, while RH-6 represents the visa category for the regional center category of projects in HUA within the Set Aside visa category. Under the EB-5 RIA 2022, the unused numbers in each reserved category (total Set Aside = 32%) roll over into the same category the next year. After the second year, if there are unused visa numbers, they go into the general pool (Unreserved = 68%).


At this time, only Mainland China and India Unreserved categories are retrogressed. Rest of the world (ROW) Unreserved and all Set Aside categories remain "CURRENT". And since there are more visas being allocated to the Unreserved category (68%) compared to the Set Aside category (32%), investors from ROW do not need to rely solely on the Set Aside categories. They do not have to wait for the 32% reserved visa quota to be exhausted. Instead, they can directly apply through the Unreserved visa category, which has a larger total quota!



Investors from ROW that are not facing or prone to backlog might have a stronger incentive to directly choose the general pool (Unreserved = 68%) because the number of visas available is higher. Assuming that this scenario is true and that enough ROW investors choose Unreserved, the amount of Set Aside visa remain unused for ROW would be quite large. If these visas are then rollover to the next fiscal year, the visa allocation quotas available would increase (# visa available for the FY + # unused visa rollover), which means higher number of visa available for Mainland China and India Set Aside categories. This could delay or minimize the backlog problem looming over the reserved categories for Mainland China and India.


Although the NVC visa channel selection process has been exposed, the DOS has not yet clearly outlined how applicants adjusting status in the U.S. (filing Form I-485) should choose their category. However, there are reasons to believe that similar allocation processes have been under discussion.


For EB-5 applicants born in India and Mainland China, it is crucial to stay tuned to high-quality information sources, the latest policy trends and operational changes, and promptly update their knowledge of priority date. Investors should pay close attention to the note section in the monthly Visa Bulletin. If DOS foresees a need to set a Final Action Date for any or all Set Aside categories, a warning will be included in the notes section prior to the actual establishment of the cut-off dates. Simultaneously, selecting suitable investment projects and managing funds securely is even more necessary, feasible, and important.


Why Investors Should Consider Senior Loan Projects?

Investing in a project where EB-5 is the senior loan is advantageous because it provides a higher level of security and priority in the repayment structure. As the senior loan, EB-5 investments are prioritized over other forms of financing, reducing the risk for investors. This structure also often ensures that the project's financial health and success are closely monitored, further protecting investor interests.



Project Highlights

  1. PRIME LOCATION with convenient transportation, an abundance of dining, entertainment & shopping options. High potentials for growth.

  2. EB-5 AS SENIOR LOAN SECURED WITH MORTGAGE for project A (main project), has first priority in repayment.

  3. SHORT INVESTMENT TERM OF 3.5 YEARS, no redeployment needed as long as investors fulfilled USCIS requirements.

  4. EXPEIERNCED DEVELOPER with previous successful EB-5 projects (I-829 approved, funds repaid.

  5. SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF JOBS TO BE CREATED to meet USCIS' requirements. Construction has started for project B, jobs are being created.


Experienced Teams of Professionals

Award-Winning EB-5 Regional Center


ARCFE is an award-winning Regional Center first designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on March 5th, 2013 (Pre-EB-5 RIA 2022) and was redesignated under the EB-5 RIA 2022 bill on December 15th, 2022. We have assisted over 1500 clients through 16 real estate development projects, with a 100% project approval rate up to date. ARCFE has successfully raised and managed EB-5 funds and has returned EB-5 funds to all of our eligible investors. As of December 2023, we have repaid $62M+ USD. 



Numerous of ARCFE Investors Have Received Their I-526E Approval Under the EB-5 RIA 2022



Experienced Developer with Rich Portfolio of Successful Project (Including EB-5)


Established and directed by Mr. George Xu, Century Development Group stands as a paragon in the realm of real estate development, profoundly transforming the skyline of Queens (NY) since the late 1990s. Boasting an impressive portfolio of over 1M sqft in developments, collectively valued at upwards of $800M. Century Development Group exemplifies excellence in residential, commercial, mixed-use, and hospitality sectors. 


Their portfolio of successful projects also include those that used EB-5 financing, such as ARCFE Group A Murray Condo project. Some of Group A's successes include:

  • All I-526 approved.

  • Multiple I-829 approvals.

  • 100% EB-5 capital repaid to all eligible investors.



Disclaimer: This article presents analyses and opinions based on available information and should not be construed as legal advice. Investors are encouraged to seek guidance from a qualified attorney regarding legal matters pertaining to their immigration process.

Source: IIUSA, EB5Investors

 

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