Estimated I-526 Processing Times Range
The most recent estimated processing time range of I-526 petitions showed a sudden and significant surge from 22-28.5 months in April 2019 to 29-45.5 months in May 2019. Within one month, the estimated processing time of an I-526 petition increased by 32% to 60%. In a year-over-year comparison, the estimated I-526 processing time range in May 2018 was 20 to 25.5 months, almost half of the current estimated processing time range.
In addition, the estimated processing time of I-526 petitions in May 2019 (up to 45.5 months) reached its highest level in EB-5 history. In fact, it was significantly higher than the second highest level of the I-526 processing time, which was 32.5 months in April 2018.
Although IPO reduced the Form I-526 backlog in late 2018 and kept the processing time of I-526 petitions to approximately 26 months, the average processing time of adjudicating an I-526 petition continued to increase in the last five years, from under 15 months in 2014 to more than 40 months in May 2019.
I-526 Case Inquiry Date Movements
The “receipt date for a case inquiry” on the processing time webpage for Form I-526 serves as an important indicator on whether a pending I-526 petition is outside the range of normal processing time.
As of May 31st, 2019, the case inquiry date for Form I-526 was 9/17/2015, retrogressed 480 days from the previous month, marking it the largest monthly retrogression on processing I-526 cases in the EB-5 history. In contrast, before May 2019, on average, the case inquiry date advanced by 23 days each month from June 2018 to April 2019.
As the left Figure illustrates, the case inquiry date between September 2018 and March 2019 actually advanced more than 30 days per month. However, in April 2019, the case inquiry date retrogressed for the first time in the last eight months.
In-Depth Analysis: A Close Look at the Actual Processing Times of 3,020 I-526 Cases
Thanks to Freedom of Information Act, IIUSA was able to receive the actual receipt dates and the approval/denial dates for 3,020 I-526 cases that were adjudicated by IPO in the first quarter of FY2018 (Oct., Nov., and Dec. 2017). The analysis of such a valuable dataset shed some light on the actual processing times of I-526 adjudication on the level of individual cases.
IIUSA members can access the full data report here on the Member Portal.