The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released comprehensive performance statistics for the Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions. The statistics include information from fiscal year 2008 to the first quarter of the current fiscal year 2017. Furthermore, we will examine detailed visa issuance statistics from the Department of State (DOS) for fiscal year 2016. In this post, I will include the charts as well as a few notes on the statistics.
Form I-526 Statistics
The following is the Form I-526 statistics for fiscal year 2008 to Q1 fiscal year 2018 [PDF version]:
In general, the USCIS has been receiving more EB5 petitions as time has gone on. Fiscal years 2008 and 2009 saw fewer than 1,300 Form I-526 petitions received. However, fiscal year 2015 saw a record 14,373 petitions received, followed by 14,147 in fiscal year 2016.
The increasing number of petitions received has resulted in a corresponding dramatic increase in the number of pending petitions. At the end of fiscal year 2009, the USCIS had only 519 EB5 petitions still pending, representing the low-water mark. Since then, the USCIS has seen an increase of a couple thousand each fiscal year. At the end of fiscal year 2013, the USCIS had 7,131 pending petitions. That number increased by over 10,000 to 17,367 at the end of fiscal year 2015. At the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, the USCIS has 23,250 outstanding petitions.
The number of petitions approved has generally increased as well as the number of petitions received and the number of petitions pending have increased. Accordingly, fiscal year 2015 saw the largest number of petitions approved, at 8,756. Interestingly, the number of denied petitions did not change much from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2015, despite the sharp increase in both petitions received by USCIS and pending petitions over this period. However, fiscal year 2016 saw a dramatic jump in the number of petition denials. 2014 had previously seen the most denials with 1,169, but the USCIS's denial of 1,735 petitions in fiscal year 2016 set a record by a wide margin.
The USCIS received and approved a large number of EB5 petitions in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017. The USCIS received 4,395 petitions and approved 3,346. However, the USCIS only denied 236 petitions, which would put it at a pace on denials closer to fiscal years 2012-2015 than fiscal year 2016. The number of pending petitions jumped sharply to 23,250, representing a trend towards EB5 petitions remaining unadjudicated for longer.
Form I-829 Statistics
The following is the Form I-829 statistics for fiscal year 2008 to Q1 fiscal year 2018 [PDF version]:
The USCIS has seen a general — but not consistent — upward trend in the number of Forms I-829 petitions received, approved, and pending. The number of Forms I-829 received has increased each year beginning in fiscal year 2013, from 1,127 in 2013 to 3,474 in fiscal year 2016. The number of pending petitions has increased accordingly, rising from 1,345 in fiscal year 2013 to a record 6,309 in fiscal year 2016.
The number of approved petitions has not increased as consistently. Fiscal year 2014 (1,603) and 2016 (1,758) saw the highest number of petition approvals, with significant jumps from the previous year in each case. These two years also saw the most petition denials, with 178 in fiscal year 2014 being the high-water mark.
The first quarter of fiscal year 2017 saw 752 petitions received, 95 petitions approved, and 17 petitions denied. The number of outstanding petitions increased to 7,072. The number of petitions received is relatively consistent with previous years, although thus far in fiscal year 2017 the USCIS has not yet rendered a significant number of decisions on submitted petitions .
Visa Issuance in Fiscal Year 2016
In fiscal year 2016, 9,947 EB5 visas were issued at consular offices abroad and by the USCIS through adjustment of status [PDF version]. 8,505 of these visas were issued abroad at consular offices by the Department of State (DOS), while 1,442 were issued by the USCIS through the adjustment of status process. The EB5 visa category is unique among the employment-based preference categories in that the majority of EB5 visas are issued through consular processing. The vast majority of EB1, EB2, EB3, and EB4 (employment) visas are issued by the USCIS through adjustment of status.
7,516 of the EB5 visas issued were issued to nationals of China (mainland born). The vast majority of these, as well as all EB5 visas, were for petitioners based in regional target areas (6,997). Besides mainland China, only six other countries had in excess of 100 EB5 visa recipients in fiscal year 2016: Vietnam (334); South Korea (260); China — Taiwan born (203); India (149); Venezuela (109); and Russia (106). You may see the full country-by-country statistics along with the EB5 category breakdown at the following link [PDF version].
With the increasing number of EB5 petitions, the USCIS has a correspondingly increasing number of pending EB5 petitions. This is most evident with Form I-529 petitions, but the trend is also showing with Form I-829 petitions.
Nationals of China continue to represent the dominant share of EB5 petitions filed and EB5 visa beneficiaries.
The EB5 program is in flux. First, Congress has been renewing the EB5 program on an annual basis rather than authorizing it long-term, thereby introducing uncertainty into the future of the program. Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a proposed rule that includes significant changes to the EB5 rules [see article]. Accordingly, the DHS may introduce substantial changes to the EB5 program later this year.
We will update the site with further developments on the EB5 program as they happen. Please see the full Investment Immigration on our website to learn about the variety of immigration options available for investors and entrepreneurs [see category].