09 Sep EB-5 Visas for Chinese Nationals are Unavailable for the Rest of the Fiscal Year
During the AILA EB-5 Conference in Chicago on August 23, 2014, attendees were informed about an important update on a quota limit, which has been rumored to be on the horizon for some time now. Charles Oppenheim, the State Department’s chief of visa control, announced that no further visas would be available to Chinese nationals in the EB-5 visa category for the remainder of the fiscal year. On a positive note, this stay only applies to petitioners from mainland China, and the stay will run through October 1, 2014 when the next fiscal year begins.
There are a certain number of visas available per fiscal year for each country. When the EB-5 program began in 1990, Congress determined that a combined total of 10,000 EB-5 visas would be available each fiscal year – Section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Furthermore, “7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers” are allowed –Sec. 610 of (Public Law 102-395). This translates to approximately 700 visas per country. It is also important to note that many foreign nationals applying for an EB-5 visa also bring their families, which eliminates available spots as well.
Notably, Canada cancelled its immigrant investor program in February of this year, which made it even further inevitable that the demand for EB-5 visas from Chinese foreign nationals would increase in the U.S.
What does this mean for the Chinese applicants who have yet to submit a petition this fiscal year? Oppenheim explained that if an applicant already has an interview scheduled, then it will proceed. Conversely, if the applicant postponed the interview or it has not been scheduled yet, then it will be scheduled following the end of this fiscal year. This is not an actual retrogression because I-526 petitions for Chinese nationals may still be filed with USCIS. However, USCIS will not forward the petitions for an adjustment of status until the new fiscal year begins on October 1, 2014.
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