Last week, Charles Oppenheim, chief of the Department of State’s Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting, provided an estimate of the final action dates over the next several months and the estimated wait times for an EB-5 green card.
He said the final action dates will remain “current”—or ready for processing—for all countries except India China, and Vietnam.
Understand the System
Congress caps the number of green cards issued at 366,000 per year. No single country of origin can account for more than 7 percent of the green cards in any category. That means if the number of green card petitions from individuals from a country outstrips the available supply, they must wait for a green card number to become available.
The Department of State puts out a Visa Bulletin every month. The Visa Bulletin shows which green card petitions from which countries of origin can move forward and which petitions must wait in line based on their priority date. The priority date is the date that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives a green card petition. The monthly Visa Bulletin includes a “final action dates” chart showing which priority dates have reached the front of the line and can be approved.
If you petitioned for an EB-5 green card, you get a priority date. When you can apply for your green card or permanent residence, depends on what country you were born in—not your current country of citizenship!
Like Vietnam, the number of green cards available to individuals born in India is 700 per year. EB-5 green cards are currently being processed for those from India, according to the Visa Bulletin for November 2018. Still, they face a nearly 6-year wait to receive an EB-5 green card, according to Oppenheim. It is crucial to apply in this category ASAP. We are seeing rising demand for EB-5 green cards in the Indian American community, so this wait time will likely increase.
Oppenheim estimates that a final action date will be imposed by July 2019 Visa Bulletin at the latest, which depends on how quickly USCIS processes all petitions. In the October 2019 Visa Bulletin, the final action date will move forward significantly to 2017, Oppenheimer said.
If you are from India and would like to obtain permanent residence more quickly, please consider whether you qualify for an EB-1A Green Card for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability.
The number of green cards available each year to individuals born in China is about 3,800. For several years, the demand for EB-5 green cards submitted by individuals from China has far exceeded the supply. That means they must wait until a green card number becomes available. Oppenheim stated that individuals born in China face roughly a 14-year wait from the time an EB-5 petition is submitted to the time receive an EB-5 green card!
The current Visa Bulletin for November 2018 lists Aug. 15, 2014, as the final action date for EB-5 petitions for those from China. That means individuals who submitted Form I-130 on or before Aug. 15, 2014, can now submit their Form I-485 for adjustment of status to permanent residency (green card).
If you are facing a multiyear wait to getting your EB-5 green card, consider obtaining Grenadian citizenship and applying for an E-2 investor visa in the meantime.
Wait Times for Other Countries
The wait time estimate is the number of years from when an EB-5 petition is filed to when USCIS approves the petition. The other countries, which are each eligible for 700 green cards per year, with wait times include:
- Vietnam: 7.2-year wait
- South Korea: 2.2-year wait
- Taiwan: 1.7-year wait
- Brazil: 1.5-year wait
Alternatives to the EB-5
Given the long wait times some face in obtaining an EB-5 green card, we often help clients explore alternatives. Here are a few that we often consider:
- The E-2 Visa for Treaty Investors enables foreign nationals whose home country has a trade treaty with the U.S. to come to the U.S. when investing capital in a U.S. business. Although the E-2 does not lead to permanent residency, it can be renewed indefinitely.
- Foreign nationals whose home countries do not have a trade treaty with the U.S., such as China and India, a path to an E-2 Visa exists. Citizens of these countries can obtain an E-2 if they first make an investment and obtain citizenship in the country of Grenada.
- Although individuals from China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam face waiting for an EB-1A Green Card for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, those from China, India, and Vietnam face longer wait times for an EB-5. The final action date for an EB-1 for China and India is June 1, 2016. The final action date for Vietnam is April 1, 2017.
- EB-2 NIW National Interest Waiver makes sense if you are from a country other than China or India. The final action date for an EB-2 NIW for China is May 15, 2015, and March 26, 2009, for India.
- If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you are not subject to the green card quota in the Visa Bulletin. That means a visa number is immediately available for green cards through family.
Please reach out to us if we can help you weigh your options and determine the best path forward. If you found this information helpful, please let us know by leaving a comment below.