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October 29 2013

Visa Backlog

Rumors are flying that the 10,000 EB-5 visas will be exhausted in 2014, resulting in a longer wait to immigrate. I spoke with Charlie Oppenheim, the Department of State official in charge of the allocation of visa numbers. Here is what he said:

  • If it becomes necessary in 2014, he will wait as long as possible before halting the allocation of EB-5 visas. If it appears that the demand for visas will reach the annual limit of 10,000, a cutoff date will be created. This means that cases filed before the cutoff date may proceed to get an EB-5 immigration visa or adjustment of status interview.
  • Any backlog will only apply to China.
  • If retrogression of the EB-5 quota becomes necessary, it will probably begin in summer 2014.
  • The government’s fiscal year for 2015 begins in October 2014. At that time, 10,000 new visas become available, and if there has been a cutoff or closure, the EB-5 quota will again become current. At that time the demand for visas for fiscal year 2015 will be assessed.
  • An attempt is made to allocate 27% of the 10,000 EB-5 visas each quarter. If there is excess demand, a case may sit for a few months just to get the interview scheduled.
  • For fiscal year 2013 there were 3,000 unused visas. Unfortunately, these visas will not carry over to 2014.
  • The demand for visas from the American Consul in Guangzhou, China, in summer 2013 was greater than the combined demand for the prior eight months. This resulted from many EB-5 immigrants delaying their interview until the summer when their children were out of school, with the goal of immigrating before the start of the next school year. This makes it more difficult to predict EB-5 visa demand.
  • The bottom line – EB-5 immigrants should not delay a visa interview. Visa availability may back up in summer 2014 and visa issuance may be delayed until October or November 2014.