Friday, February 19, 2016

USCIS EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Office (“IPO”) Provides New Guidance for Inquiries to Address Increased Processing Times


(Source: Robert J. Blanco, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal) With USCIS recently announcing that average processing times for EB-5 cases have reached 16 months, adjudication times have been a primary focus for stakeholders.  Long adjudication times affect a number of issues relating to an investor’s family, travel plans, the release of investment funds from escrow, and job creation statistics, among others.  During the February 3, 2016 Stakeholder Engagement, IPO Chief Nicholas Colucci discussed the increased processing times and steps the IPO is taking to address the issue.  Specifically, the IPO has focused on processing the oldest pending cases and hiring additional adjudication officers.  Despite these efforts, the unprecedented surge in I-526 filings at the end of 2015 has made it difficult for IPO officers and staff to quickly adjudicate filings.

Recognizing the need for stakeholders to inquire about their cases, the IPO has clarified its preferred methods of communication.  Stakeholders are instructed to file inquiries by emailing USCIS.ImmigrantInvestorProgram@uscis.dhs.gov in order to check the case status of petitions outside normal processing time; change contact information of petitioners, attorneys, or regional centers; report problems with official notices; or, notably, to request expedited processing of pending petitions.  The IPO notes that expedite requests will be administered according to the established Expedite Criteria guidelines used throughout USCIS.

Stakeholders are asked to allow the IPO 14 calendar days to respond to inquiries.  However, if a response is not received or is unsatisfactory, stakeholders may respond or re-send the email with the word “ESCALATE” in the subject line with an explanation of why the matter needs further attention. This is a positive step toward greater transparency and open communication between stakeholders and the IPO.  Although past inquiries often result in canned responses without specific case information, we welcome any opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with USCIS to promote the efficient adjudication of EB-5 petitions.

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