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On January 29, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") announced a process change for Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, from a first-in, first-out basis to a visa availability approach. According to the USCIS, the new approach will prioritize petitions from individuals connected to countries where visas are immediately available. The idea is that this will help speed up the processing times for underrepresented countries - those that have not used up or are not close to using up their per-country annual visa allotment. Applicants from countries where visas are immediately available will now be better able to use their annual per-country allocation of EB-5 visas.

The new visa availability approach will apply to petitions pending as of the effective date of the change. USCIS will implement the visa availability approach on March 31, 2020. Investors from backlogged countries (Mainland China, India, Vietnam) with pending I-526 petitions, who are concerned about petition approval and having their investment funds tied up, can voice their concerns at the USCIS public engagement on March 13, 2020, or by contacting the Immigrant Investor Program Office.

Read the press release by the USCIS, here.

For more information, please contact our attorneys.

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