Member Perspectives: An Open Letter to Kevin Muck at IPO about I-526 data and avoiding EB-5 backlogs

This is a member perspective and the views of the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of IIUSA.


Originally published by Suzanne Lazicki of Lucid Professional Writing

Dear Kevin Muck,

You introduced yourself in the October 2022 EB-5 stakeholder meeting as I-526 Division Chief at IPO, with ten years of experience as an IPO economist preceded by eight years of service at the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

With your background and status, you should be capable and informed about the EB-5 process. But you said something ignorant and dangerous in today’s EB-5 stakeholder engagement.

A question was asked about reporting I-526/I-526E receipt data by TEA category/country, for the purpose of monitoring and avoiding backlogs in the new TEA categories. You responded that stakeholders should consult the Visa Bulletin, and see that the current Visa Bulletin reports TEA categories as “current.”

Think about it, Kevin. Do EB-5 backlogs not exist until they appear at the visa stage/in the visa bulletin? Do you believe that someone filing I-526E today gets visa availability based on the dates in today’s Visa Bulletin?

If you think that, try to look in the face of an Indian who filed I-526 in December 2020, and say “You didn’t need to know about the 2,300+ other Indian I-526 we already had on file at USCIS in December 2020, but didn’t disclose except through FOIA years later.” Try to tell him: “The December 2020 visa bulletin when you filed I-526 said that India EB-5 was current so obviously you were good to go — no backlog for you to worry about when you invested! The visas available to India back when you filed I-526 must still be available to you now, right? Oh… wait… you can’t actually apply for a visa now because India EB-5 now shows as backlogged to mid 2018 in today’s visa bulletin. But how could anyone have guessed? Those visa bulletin dates appear out of nowhere! Surely nothing to do with the number of Indians who filed I-526 in 2018/2019, or our rate of adjudication! Surely IPO was right to ignore Suzanne when she wrote over and over to the IPO Customer Service Mailbox, begging for backlog-relevant I-526 data to enable backlog/wait time prediction! Why would anyone need to ask how many people are entering and lingering in the back of the queue at USCIS, when the Visa Bulletin reports conditions just fine at the terminus of the queue at Department of State?”

Think about it: in a situation where unlimited tickets can be sold for limited seats, why might prospective ticket buyers possibly want to inquire about how many tickets have already been sold?

In a situation where I-526 filing numbers turn into future priority dates for visa issuance, why might anyone possibly want to ask about filing numbers? Do you say — sorry, just wait ’til you all reach the visa application stage and then find out from the visa bulletin?

Kevin Muck, think about today’s prospective investor from China who is considering EB-5 investment with a rural project. With the 20% rural allocation and 7% country cap, that investor can count certainly on competing for one of about 140 visas per year (about 10,00020%7%) – anything above that depends on the unknowns of current/future rest-of-world demand and carryover timing. With such limited availability, why might that prospective investor want to know how many Chinese have already filed I-526 for rural projects, whether 80 or 800? Why could that prospect want timely data to show whether/when I-526 volume overall is sufficient to max out the category and activate country caps once the demand reaches the visa stage? Why might she want the receipt data necessary to estimate whether the rural queue already formed at the I-526 stage is of a size to take two years or 10 years to make it past the visa window? And it’s not only investors who want to estimate their investment and immigration horizon at the time of investment — issuers and projects and regional centers require this for their planning as well. And the government also has an interest.


    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop