March 2020 Visa Bulletin: EB-5 China Waiting List Jumps Forward

Washington, D.C. – February 20, 2020: The March 2020 Visa Bulletin was released in the evening of February 18, 2020 by the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”). It brought welcome news to anxious EB-5 investors: the waiting list for Chinese-born EB-5 investors moved forward significantly. The EB-5 China visa waiting list jumped from December 1, 2014 to May 15, 2015.

The Jump

This is significant because thousands of EB-5 investors from China who filed their visa petitions in the 5 months between December 2014 and May 2015 will now be able to move forward to obtain green cards through US Consulate Processing or by filing I-485 Adjustment of Status.

Dates for Filing (so-called “List B”) for EB-5 were set as being Current except for EB-5 China, which was set at December 15, 2015. Thankfully, USCIS has announced that it will allow Dates for Filing for EB-5 applicants during March 2020.

The reason for the 5-month jump in Final Action Dates is stated expressly in the Notes to the March 2020 Visa Bulletin: “…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.”

If one cuts through the DOS jargon, the answer for the forward jump in the EB-5 China waiting list is that DOS is trying to increase demand for EB-5 visas in the main market for the EB-5 Program, which traditionally was China.

Blame it on the Regs

This is the first formal recognition that the new USCIS EB-5 Regulations, which entered into effect on November 21, 2019, effectively shut-down new investments under the EB-5 program. The reasons for this are well-known. The 2019 EB-5 Regulations increased the minimum investment amount to $900,000 for Targeted Employment Areas; offered no system for designation of Targeted Employment Areas ahead of time, and offered no solution to the EB-5 waiting list.

On Life Support

With hardly any new EB-5 visa petitions being filed, the DOS is trying to resuscitate the EB-5 program by moving the EB-5 waiting list for China across the all-important threshold of May 2015. Observers of the EB-5 Program will recall that May 2015 was the first month that a visa waiting list was declared for EB-5 investors from China. There are, in fact, thousands of EB-5 investors who filed their visa petitions in the 5-month period between December 2014 and May 2015.

What Comes Next?

The natural question that follows is whether the EB-5 China waiting list will continue to move forward. The answer, unfortunately, is no. Instead, it is likely that the EB-5 China waiting list will retrogress in a few months after thousands of EB-5 investors from China move forward based on the March 2020 Visa Bulletin.

Nevertheless, over the course of 2020, the natural progression is that the EB-5 China waiting list is likely to move forward much faster than previously announced by the DOS.

Donoso & Associates, a leading immigration law firm based in Washington, D.C., will continue to report on developments regarding the immigration law and policy through our news section of donosolaw.com.

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I.A. Donoso & Associates provide assistance with review and advice regarding eligibility for visas to the U.S. or Canada.

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