FY 2019 EB-5 Visa Statistics
The Report of the Visa Office 2019 has been published, with EB-5 visa statistics in Table VI Part IV (visas issued through consular processing) and Table V Part 3 (consular processing plus I-485 status adjustment). The statistics reflect the number of green cards issued for conditional permanent residence by country of origin.
EB-5 Visas Per Country, FY 2019
This is mostly information we’ve had available for some time – Charles Oppenheim summarized this data at the October 2019 IIUSA conference, and EB-5 visas issued in FY2019 are reflective of EB-5 petitions filed at least two years ago for most countries, or five years ago for China, considering the visa bulletin. To understand current EB-5 demand, we need per-country I-526 data from the beginning of the process. However, USCIS has resisted disclosing per-country I-526 data, so the best data currently available are the visa statistics that reflect usage midway through the EB-5 process.
How close did the Department of State get to its goal of issuing the total visas available for the year under numerical limits?
The EB-5 numerical limit 7.1% of a total number of Employment Based category visas that varies each year, further divided by the 7% per-country cap. The EB numerical limit for FY19 was 141,918 visas, which put the EB-5 share for FY19 at 10,076 visas, and the individual country share at 705 visas. In practice, it’s not possible to hit the targets exactly. In FY2019, the Department of State undershot the worldwide target and ultimately only issued 9,478 total EB-5 visas, but slightly overshot the per-country targets for India and Vietnam, with each ending up with more than their allocated 705 visas. The worldwide visa numbers don’t reflect lack of demand, as there were plenty of visa applications left pending at the end of the year, but rather complications in the adjudication process.
How are EB-5 applicants divided between people living abroad and people already in the US? What populations in the United States are using EB-5 to adjust status? Beyond the top 6 countries, how is the EB-5 market diversifying or concentrating?
While most EB-5 visas are still being issued to individuals residing outside of the U.S. through consular processing, there is a significant number of visas being issued to individuals living in the U.S. through I-485 adjustment of status. Nearly half of South Americans who received EB-5 visas in FY19 were at that point residing in the US on different visas. Similarly, 31% of the EB-5 visas issued to Europeans, and 34% of those issued to Indians, were issued to individuals residing in the U.S. through adjustment of status. On the other hand, 90% of EB-5 visas issued to China-born people in FY19 went through consular processing. Africans reached their highest ever volume of annual visas issued, having received 334 visas in FY2019, the majority issued through consular processing.
How many EB-5 visas are going to investors, and how many are going to their dependent beneficiaries (spouses and unmarried children under 21)?
The Report of the Visa Office does not itemize visas by principals and derivatives, but the DHS Yearbook of Immigration Statistics does. Below is a pie chart with the most recent data (2018) as a reminder that the 10,000 or so annual EB-5 visas do not – as Congress intended – support 10,000 investments in the US economy, or 100,000 jobs. Given that the Department of State believes that it needs to fit whole families into the numerical limit, the EB-5 quota is only able to incentivize approximately 3,300 investments annually. In FY2018, only 3,363 EB-5 visas went to principals i.e. EB-5 investors. Most EB-5 visas went to children. (Interestingly, nearly a third of EB-5 applicants in FY18 apparently immigrated without spouses.)
FY2019 was like FY2018 in terms of country diversification, with similar regional distribution and number of countries contributing to the visa total. Growing diversification was more evident between FY2017 and FY2018. The number of visas leftover for Chinese dropped significantly between FY2017 (about 7,500) and FY2018 (about 4,500) but remained about the same in FY2019 (about 4,300). That could change in FY2020, if the visa availability approach succeeds in pushing a larger volume of rest-of-world applicants out of I-526 to the visa stage.
And finally, a reminder that visas can only be issued to people with active visa applications. The March 2020 visa bulletin ends with a reminder to Chinese with I-526 approval to get documentarily qualified at NVC, or risk losing place in line. The China Final Action date just jumped five months — not due to lack of Chinese with approved I-526, but due to lack of Chinese eligible to be called for a visa interview.
“E. EMPLOYMENT-BASED FIFTH PREFERENCE VISA AVAILABILITY (note from March 2020 visa bulletin)
There has been a very rapid advancement of the China-mainland born fifth preference final action date for the month of March. This action has been taken in an effort to generate an increased level of demand. Despite the large amount of registered China fifth preference demand, currently there are not enough applicants who are actively pursuing final action on their case to fully utilize the amount of numbers which are expected to be available under the annual limit.
Once large numbers of applicants do begin to have their cases brought to final action, some type of corrective action may be required to control number use within the annual limit. It is important to remember that applicants who are entitled to immigrant status become documentarily qualified, and potentially eligible for interview, at their own initiative and convenience. By no means has every applicant with a priority date earlier than a prevailing final action date been processed for final visa action.”
This brochure from DOS gives an overview of the NVC process and what it means to be documentarily qualified.
Data and analysis presented in this article has been adapted from EB-5 Expert and Business Plan Writer Suzanne Lazicki’s blog, Lucid Text, article “FY2019 EB-5 Visa Stats by Country”, posted on February 21st, 2020. Read the original article here: https://blog.lucidtext.com/2020/01/17/2-2020-visa-bulletin-india-fad/