Comment: Blanket I-526 Expedites

ILW was commissioned to write a white paper on blanket I-526 expedites about 5 years ago. We also conducted an EB-5 Roundtable on blanket I-526 expedites at that time. One of the attorneys who attended that Roundtable subsequently succeeded in obtaining a Blanket I-526 expedite which secured hundreds of investors from China.

How does a blanket I-526 expedite work? A blanket I-526 expedite for a regional center is adjudicated in 2 weeks to 6 months rather than the current 15 months to 24 months of regular USCIS processing. Projects with a blanket I-526 expedite have a dedicated adjudicator or two whose only full time job is to process applications for that specific project's investor applications. The project has the names, phone numbers and direct emails of the adjudicators, and are able to reach them as needed. Often instead of sending routine RFEs regarding investor applications, the adjudicators reach out directly to the project by phone or email asking for the additional information they need. Not only is this faster processing, but this is great service-- Royal, Red-carpet, Rolls-Royce service from USCIS.

There are five kinds of EB5 expedites: (1) I-924 Expedite (2) Individual I-526 Expedite (3) Individual I-829 Expedite (4) Blanket I-526 Expedite (5) Blanket I-829 Expedite. The individual I-526 and I-829 expedites depend on individual circumstances of particular investors--and are independent of the project, so we are not discussing those here. We have not heard of blanket I-829 expedites and are not sure if these are even possible. So we are discussing only I-924 expedites and blanket I-526 expedites herein. To the best of our knowledge, USCIS has approved I-924 expedites in approximately 15 instances, sometimes approval has come in just a few days. Sometimes a I-924 expedite is granted Sua Sponte--without even having to ask for an expedite. In our perspective, the standard for granting an I-924 expedite to a project appears to be lower than granting a blanket I-526 expedite to a project--for getting a I-924 expedite, the project needs to meet the expedite criteria for *commencing* the project, whereas to get a blanket I-526 expedite, a project needs to meet the expedite criteria for *completion* of the project. We believe that there have been barely 6 situations where USCIS has approved a blanket I-526 expedite; only 2 of which projects are currently in the market.

Please note that the USCIS expedite criteria apply to many other kinds of immigration applications and petitions such as asylum, family immigration etc., but USCIS appears to be using a significantly higher standard for these criteria when applied to blanket I-526 expedite requests. We are not an immigration law firm--please talk to your immigration attorney to explore whether a blanket I-526 expedite is possible for your project - the attorney will apply your particular facts and circumstances to USCIS's 7 expedite criteria, and using the attorney's experience and professional judgement, will give you considered advice.

Everyone wants a blanket I-526 expedite but do you really need it? Several dozen applications for blanket I-26 expedites are being prepared as best as we can tell. We expect that the overwhelming majority of them will be denied, but of course this is up to USCIS's discretion. What if you cannot get a blanket I-526 expedite? Is all lost then? Maybe not. Strides are being made to reduce the backlog of I-526 applications at USCIS. The backlog will be cut by 50% if 2018 trends at USCIS continue into 2019 - reducing the processing time for regular I-526 applications to approximately just 12 months by the end of 2019. The market value of an expedite keeps falling as processing times for I-526s fall and approach a reasonable time period, instead of the current unconscionable 20+ months.

For background on the above, please see our editorial on Expedites Take EB-5 by Storm.

PS. The EB-5 Modernization Regulation has been sent to OIRA/OMB to be published as a Final Rule, which includes a massive increase in investment amounts to $1.3 million/$1.8 million, and Centralized TEA designations. There will surely be a grace period, 30-days or 60-days, prior to the new EB-5 rule going into effect. Once the regulation is published with the grace period in black-and-white, India will rocket forward in investments with perhaps 1000-2000 investments during the grace period, and perhaps another 1000-2000 investments will materialize from other countries during the same time. ILW is conducting many events to ensure that issuers can make the most of this opportunity, please write to webmaster@ilw.com for more info, or call us at 1-212-545-0818, or get info online. Don't Delay; Act Today!

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Focus: H1B to EB5
Exhibition/speaking opportunities for March 2019 H-1B events are available. Please see below for our current H1B to EB5 Expo schedule:

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Format:
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EB-5 Issuers only - $3,999 per city for H-1B Event
(Inquire about Discounts and also about Platinum Level)

For more info please call (212)545-0818 or email webmaster@ilw.com or click here.

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