EB5 Visa: Cost of Form I-526 Increasing by 9% from October

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the outcome of its biennial fee review earlier this month. Form I-526 – Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor – will be subject to a price increase. The form, which is the first step of the EB-5 application process, will increase to $4,010 from October. This represents a 9% increase on the current price of $3675.

An increase in the minimum investment amount last November is the principle reason for the large increase. At that time, the minimum investment requirement almost doubled from $500,000 to $900,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and from $1 million to $1.8 million outside of a TEA.

USCIS argues that the increased investment amount means that the Source of Funds work – critical to an I-526 adjudication – has become more complicated, resulting in additional work for the agency. Complicated source of funds often need to go through a managerial review, adding extra cost.

While the price increase is partly to reflect the increased workload for USCIS case officers, there is another reason behind this. The review states that USCIS significantly “overestimated” demand for EB-5, which will lead to a budget shortfall. USCIS is almost entirely fee funded, which makes this especially problematic.

The reason for the overestimation is that demand was calculated before the minimum investment amount increased last November. That increase has dampened demand and the cost of the I-526 has been increased to mitigate that.

The I-829 Form – the Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residency Status – has registered a more modest 4% price increase. This form comes later in the EB-5 process when an investor is eligible to remove the conditions on their Green Card. The new price of an I-829 is $3,900.

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The Solution to a Stuck EB-5 Visa Application – Filing Writ of Mandamus

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has slowed the pace at which it adjudicates I-526 petitions. The I-526 form demonstrates a petitioner’s eligibility for the EB-5 visa and constitutes the first official step in the application process for would-be immigrant investors.

The slowdown in adjudications are the result of political, administrative and external factors. They are evidenced in the fact that “priority dates” for countries in visa retrogression are quickly shifting forward. The changes to the priority dates is most likely the artificial result of low demand for visas caused by a slow rate of adjudication rather than meaningful changes to the number of applicants waiting for EB-5 visas.

 

USCIS Ombudsman

There are several courses of action open to any immigrant petitioner who suspects their I-526 application to have been unreasonably delayed. In the first instance, petitioners should contact the USCIS ombudsman’s office. This may not ultimately expedite your adjudication, but it is helpful to show evidence of seeking a solution should a petitioner need to subsequently escalate their case. Another option is to contact the senator or congressional representative covering the state or district where the EB-5 project is located.

 

Writ of Mandamus

It is possible to file a lawsuit in a federal court to determine whether your immigration petition has been unreasonably delayed. This lawsuit, known as a writ of mandamus, will have no bearing on whether or not your I-526 application is successfully approved. It does, however, force USCIS into adjudicating your case quickly if it is judged to have been unreasonably delayed. Sometimes simply initiating proceedings can galvanize action as USCIS has been known to adjudicate a plaintiff’s application in order to avoid progressing with the lawsuit.

 

Filing a Case

Since filing a writ of mandamus is a legal course of action which may require litigation, it is always advisable to seek advice from an attorney. Contact D&A for a free consultation to determine whether it would be advantageous for your I-526 petition. Our team has filed dozens of successful writs of mandamus actions against USCIS for unreasonably delaying immigrant petitions. We can assist regardless of whether your I-526 application was prepared by Davies & Associates. The average time between filing a writ of mandamus and receiving an adjudication is around two months, in some cases it can be significantly less.

 

Act Quickly

It is anticipated that USCIS might suddenly start processing applications at a faster pace. It is advisable to file a writ of mandamus as soon as possible to have your case reviewed ahead of a possible surge.