Getting a green card in the United States is a large investment. You plan your budget, your career, and your future around obtaining this immigrant visa. For the EB-5 green card, it represents an even bigger investment than most green cards. Being able to know how long it will take for the USCIS to make a decision on your EB-5 is vital to being able to plan anything concerning your investment. Let’s dive into what goes into this prestigious green card and what you can expect the EB-5 processing time to be.
If you are interested in getting a U.S. green card but aren’t sure which is best for your situation, here is a quick rundown of the EB-5 and its requirements. This will help us better understand the processing time.
Although the EB-5 green card is technically under the employment-based category, it is actually based on an investment rather than your employer (meaning that you can be unemployed but make an investment and still qualify for this green card). To be eligible, you need to invest at least $1 million in a U.S. enterprise. Alternatively, you can invest $500,000 if the enterprise is in an area of high unemployment or a rural area. The money must be your own, but it doesn’t have to be money that you have earned, meaning that it can be a gift.
The more that you invest and the increased likelihood that your enterprise will result in the development of jobs for U.S. citizens, the greater the chance that your petition will be approved.
EB-5 Processing Time
Now, the steps that go into the EB-5 processing time are:
- Filing the petition
- Waiting for the priority date to be current
- Adjusting your status/going through consular processing
Let’s go into each of these to see what the processing time for each step is.
The first step for many U.S. green cards is filing a petition. In the case of the EB-5, you will need to file an I-526 in order to request the green card from the USCIS. The amount it takes for this petition to be processed varies and is heavily dependent on the complexity of your case and how busy the service center is that is processing your petition. The average time is about six months, but it could take much shorter or much longer.
Is Premium Processing Available?
Premium processing is an optional service that expedites the processing times for some petitions to just 15 business days. This service is only available for certain visas and green cards that use the I-129 and I-140 petitions. Therefore, premium processing is not available to shorten the EB-5 processing time.
EB-5 Priority Dates
Once your petition has been submitted to the USCIS, the date that they receive it will be marked as your priority date. Keep this date in mind, as you will need it to check your processing time. The Department of State releases a visa bulletin every month that lists final action dates based on the type of green card you are pursuing and which nation is your home country. You will need to wait until your priority date matches or passes the final action date in your category (ex. EB-5, India).
Depending on your country of origin, this can be the shortest or the longest part of your EB-5 processing time. If many people from your home country have petitioned for EB-5 green cards, then the final action date may move more slowly from month to month, or it may even go backward if too many people petition. Be sure to keep an eye on the most recent visa bulletin in order to stay up-to-date.
This may also have an effect on your petition’s processing time. If your priority date will not be current for some time, the USCIS may not process your petition until that time gets closer.
Adjustment of Status vs Consular Processing
Once your petition’s priority date is current, there are two routes that can be taken: adjustment of status and premium processing.
Adjustment of Status: This is only available to those that are already in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa status (such as an E-2 or H-1B status). Adjustment of status simply involves filing an I-485 form along with the necessary fees and having your status adjusted from the nonimmigrant to the immigrant category. The I-485 usually takes about six months to process and premium processing is not available. It is also important to note that just because your I-526 petition was approved does not mean that your I-485 will also be approved. Therefore, you need to make sure you are remaining in status during the entirety of the EB-5 processing time.
Consular Processing: If you are outside of the U.S. and not under a nonimmigrant status when your I-526 petition is approved and your priority date is current, then you will need to go through consular processing. This involves going to the designated U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country and making an appointment for a one-on-one interview with a consular officer.
The amount of time it takes for this to happen depends on the Consulate or Embassy’s caseload. You may be able to schedule an appointment in two weeks, or it may take much longer. Once you arrive at your appointment, you will need to bring your passport as well as several required documents and supporting evidence for your EB-5 green card.
Answer all questions promptly, confidently, and truthfully. If your EB-5 interview goes well, the Consulate or Embassy will take your passport and send it back to you a few weeks later with your green card attached inside. Occasionally, people who have to option to adjust their statuses choose to go through consular processing because it often is a shorter process and can also be the cheaper option, depending on your circumstances.
What Could Delay My EB-5 Processing Time?
Avoiding common pitfalls can help ensure that you are on the fastest track to your EB-5 green card. Here are some of the reasons that someone’s EB-5 processing time may take longer than it should:
- Simple errors – It may sound obvious, but you want to make sure that your petition is free of all errors and that all fields are completely filled out. A simple error can lead to a delay in your EB-5 processing time or even result in getting your petition rejected. The best way to avoid this is to quadruple check your petition, or better yet, have an immigration attorney file your petition for you.
- Requests for Evidence – If the USCIS feels that some extra documentation could support your case or fill in the gaps, you may be issued a Request for Evidence (RFE) rather than just reject it outright. While this is an opportunity to save your case, it will inevitably increase your EB-5 processing time. Sometimes, RFEs are issued because you are simply missing a copy of a passport or some other basic document. However, RFEs are also sent if the USCIS has questions about the origin of your investment funds or your plans for the enterprise in the future. Make sure that your case is rock solid before filing to avoid this issue.
- Issues with Fees – Lastly, make sure that you are paying the correct fees to the right places. Check the USCIS website for the I-526 petition to see what the most recent fee schedule is. Also, keep any biometrics fees in mind, as failing to pay that could delay your processing time. An immigration attorney can help you avoid simple mistakes with your filing fees.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Going through any immigration process can be complicated and full of opportunities to make costly mistakes. If you have invested the $500,000 or $1 million necessary to get an EB-5 green card, you want to make sure that you are doing everything right the first time. This is why the best strategy is to hire an immigration attorney to help you file your petition, advise your decisions, and help you avoid and deal with any possible obstacles that may come up along your journey.
Here at Immi-USA, our dedicated team of EB-5 lawyers has helped countless investors and entrepreneurs find their permanent homes in the U.S. through this prestigious green card. Our goal is to protect your investment and to make the process as smooth and as easy as possible for you. If you are concerned about your EB-5 processing time or any other aspect of the process, we’re here to help.
To get in touch with one of our expert attorneys, you can fill out this contact form and schedule your consultation with our office today.