USCIS stated in an announcement this morning that starting March 31, 2020, USCIS will “prioritize” petitions filed by investors from non-backlogged countries. Rather than processing cases “first in first out,” it will focus on “visa availability,” going from FIFO to FIVA.
This means that backlogged investors whose cases are currently with USCIS will be processed after non-backlogged investor cases.
This will be good for non-backlogged investors whose I-526 petitions are currently pending for up to 4 years, according to USCIS processing times.
This will also be good for many Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian investor families with children close to “aging out” because more pending time will be deducted from their ages at visa availability.
However, note that taking longer to receive approvals means that “priority date retention” – the ability to keep the old priority date on a new petition – would not be available in a pending case where the project is facing regional center termination or material change. This is because priority date retention is only available to petitioners holding approved petitions. This is a new benefit created under the EB-5 Modernization Rule.
We’re also assuming that USCIS processing times will shorten – hopefully significantly – and that backlogged investors’ cases will, in fact, be properly pulled and processed as their priority dates near being reached.
USCIS is holding a public call/meeting to discuss this new processing policy on March 13, 2020. Subscribe to EB-5 Notes here, check the CLP website for alerts, and stay tuned for further information.