July 2016 Visa Bulletin Update: China EB-5 Visa Numbers Grind to a Halt – The Waiting Line Gets Longer



The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) just released the July 2016 Visa Bulletin, and the China EB-5 cut-off date remains frozen at February 15, 2014.  While the numbers have never retrogressed (meaning gone backwards), the slow crawl has come to a halt.  Below are five observations on the July 2016 Visa Bulletin:

  1. For the first time since August 2015, the priority date for EB-5 visas did not move forward. Instead, as indicated in the June 2015 Visa Bulletin, visa numbers have only been authorized for those Chinese EB-5 investors whose approved Form I-526 was filed prior to February 15, 2014, as indicated by Chart A – Application Final Action Dates, now creating a 28.54 month wait.  How will this affect children who may potentially “age out” due to the EB-5 Chinese waiting line? 
  2. Below is a chart showing the length of the waiting time for Chinese EB-5 investors with approved Form I-526 petitions. It shows how the waiting line has increased in the past 14 months.
  3. The July 2016 Visa Bulletin further indicates as follows: “China: Best case scenario is March 1 by September.  Slow forward movement for October and beyond.”  This means that in August and September 2016, we can at best expect to see a total of two week’s movement, potentially creating a 30 month wait before the new quota becomes available.  It won’t take long before the waiting line stretches to 3 years and longer, although hopefully Congress will consider some relief measures when considering new legislation to extend the Sunset date beyond September 30, 2016.  July through September 2016 is the final quarter of the Fiscal Year 2016, where visa number movement traditionally slows down so as to ensure immigrant visa usage does not exceed the annual quota limitation.
  4. Why the slow movement? In April 2016, Deputy IPO Chief Julia Harrison indicated that USCIS “found” about 2,000 Form I-526 petitions filed in 2012/13 that were “misplaced” when the processing unit moved from California to Washington, D.C.  Since all of these cases have early priority dates, they will automatically leap ahead of the other cases at the National Visa Center waiting to be scheduled.  If only 1,500 of these 2,000 petitions are approved, that is almost half of the annual quota, so expect continued slow movement for the next few months
  5. This will not impact any other nationals, only persons born in China who cannot be charged to another quota, such as persons married to spouses born in Hoping Kong or Taiwan, which have separate quotas. Mr. Charles Oppenheim, Director of Immigrant Visa Control for DOS, explained that they are “still getting lots of prior to cut-off date [February 15, 2014] China demand which prevented any July movement.”

Nevertheless, reports coming from Washington, DC are that IIUSA had a very successful leadership conference and all the critical U.S. entities, such as IIUSA and AILA, are working together to present a common platform.  While success may not be possible this year with the election, there is reason to be optimistic that with over $10 Billion of foreign investment at stake among only pending petitions, the U.S. Congress will be proactive in admitting the few thousand investors that create jobs and being capital to the U.S.

This post is designed to provide practical and useful information on the subject matter covered.  However, it is provided with the understanding that no legal, tax, accounting, or other professional services are being rendered or provided.  If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

This post originally appeared on Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group. Copyright © 2016 Wolfsdorf Connect - All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Bernard Wolfsdorf Bernard Wolfsdorf is the managing partner of the top-rated law firm, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP (www.wolfsdorf.com), and the past national president of the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Established in 1986, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP is known worldwide for providing exceptional quality legal services. With 19 lawyers and offices in Los Angles and New York, the firm was recently listed as a top-tier immigration practice by Chambers & Partners with several of the firm's attorneys listed in the 2015 International Who's Who Legal. Mr. Wolfsdorf specializes in EB-5 investment immigration in addition to the full range of global immigration matters.

Joseph Barnett Joseph Barnett is licensed as an attorney in the State of Illinois and the State of Wisconsin and practices exclusively in immigration and nationality law. Mr. Barnett's practice focuses in the area of EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and other business immigration matters. Mr. Barnett received his J.D. from Vermont Law School. Mr. Barnett may be contact at jbarnett@wolfsdorf.com

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.