It has been just 7 weeks since the December 5th USCIS Stakeholder call and processing times are on the move again. It is interesting to note that as of January 20th, the posted processing times on the USCIS website have improved (just barely) for I-526 processing, and have increased significantly for both I-924 and I-829 processing.
Here are the latest statistics:
- I-526 processing: 13.8 months, down from the 14.3 months announced on the call
- I-829 processing: 10.5 months, up considerably from the 6.8 months announced on the call
- I-924 processing: 10.3 months, up from the 8.5 months announced on the call
Overall the increase in processing times does not bode well for the industry. On the bright side, however, those who are already marketing to investors or who are launching ‘direct’ projects are seeing a slight improvement of about 2 weeks in processing time, which is obviously helpful in terms of getting money on the door to move projects forward.
USCIS wants to improve these times and we hope that they will, but for those starting EB-5 projects, they would be well advised to plan for the worst and expect these times to get longer before they start improving. Bridge financing or later project starts are the best ways to plan for these delays. And remember that bridge financing is a great thing when it comes to claiming indirect job creation if investment dollars were used as the economic model input. If that financing is to be replaced by EB-5 money and is already being deployed, it’s like creating jobs before the investors are fully signed up.
We hope to be bringing better news next time around!
Phil Cohen is the founder and President of Strategic Element, a company that focuses on developing regional centers, EB-5 business plans, economic impact reports, feasibility studies and custom 'direct' EB-5 projects for its clients (www.strategicelementconsulting.com).