According to information recently released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), I-924 petitions for Regional Center designation are on the rise, and adjudication now takes an average of 11.8 months, more than double last year’s rate.
During the August 13th EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement Teleconference, the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) noted that in the month of July they received an estimated 55 I-924 petitions; typically, they said, I-924 filings would be expected to range between 25-35 petitions in a similar time period.
However, this 30% increase in I-924 filings indicated by the IPO’s data is likely only the beginning.
With legislation to renew the EB-5 Regional Center Program pending, many issuers are preparing I-924 exemplar petitions hoping that as part of any new regulations, the USCIS will allow projects with exemplars filed prior to the September 30th sunset date to be “grandfathered” into eligibility under current regulations, rather than the increased compliance standards that program renewal is certain to introduce.
Based on our market information, the USCIS might receive an unprecedented volume of filings. As the program sunset date nears, the USCIS could receive hundreds of I-924 petitions from projects seeking to qualify for current regulations, especially given the anticipated increase in minimum investment amounts.
Such an influx of petitions would likely overwhelm the IPO, which struggles to successfully adjudicate petitions at the current level.
As we have seen with the I-829 bubble, increased petition filings can have dramatic effects on adjudication times, as was also the case with increased I-526 petitions between 2010-2013. Rapid increases in volume leads to longer processing times, which can impact the EB-5 industry dramatically.
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