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April 12 2017

Surge in Filing I-526 EB-5 Applications

 In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of EB-5 activity.

Surge in Filing I-526 EB-5 Applications

With the April 28, 2017 expiration deadline of the RC EB-5 statute (the regular/direct/self EB-5 investment statute does not expire), many investors are seeking to file their I-526s to lock in their investments at the current levels.

EB-5 Statute Extension

There were Congressional hearings recently at which a number of representatives stated that they wanted comprehensive EB-5 changes now, not an extension of the current statute with the budget continuing resolution (“CR”) to September 30th. However, most believe that the current statute will be extended to September 30, 2017 without change through the budget CR.

My comments on the proposed regulations

I filed a comment on the USCIS proposed EB-5 regulations (available here: If enacted, the USCIS’ proposed regulations would:

  • Increase the minimum EB-5 investment in most areas to $1.8 million!
  • Kill most TEAs.
  • Remove TEA determinations from the states to USCIS where they may take a considerable time to be processed. I-829 Petitions by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status are now backlogged at 30 months! How long would it take USCIS to process TEA certificates? States usually issue TEA certificates in a few days or weeks.

It is important for you to contact your congressional representatives and senators and ask them to oppose these proposed regulations.


USCIS says that this year, they will conduct over 200 audits of Regional Centers and projects. I will hold a special seminar on this topic in May.

New Requests for Evidence

USCIS has started to issue Requests for Evidence to EB-5 investors who sent funds sent to the U.S. via a “swap.” This usually involves a foreign investor in China giving funds to someone there, who then gives them a similar amount in the U.S. USCIS is questioning whether those involved in a swap are licensed in the overseas jurisdiction in which they operate. USCIS does not enforce other countries’ statutes, such as draft laws, etc. Two exceptions are that for EB-5 funds, USCIS requires (1) the purpose stated in an overseas bank loan be truthful and (2) any gift tax required for a gift (i.e. from a parent to a child) be paid [few jurisdictions have such a requirement at the EB-5 investment level, but a few countries such as Korea have heavy gift taxes].

Backlogs Grow

The government processing of applications is slowing at almost all levels for the EB-5 program.

  • I-526 petitions now average about 18 months. The official processing time has only advanced to September 27, 2015.
  • I-829 processing is up to 30 months.
  • I-924 for new Regional Center and exemplars remains stuck at September 29, 2015.
  • NVC processing of immigrant visas remains slow – about 6 months.

Have a good Easter holiday.


Martin Lawler is listed in EB-5 Investors magazine as one of the “Top EB-5 Attorneys.”  He has filed many applications for Regional Center certification and about 500 EB-5 cases for investors.  His staff is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Spanish.  All services provided are under the direction of a California licensed attorney.