I-526 is a form filed by the investor applying for an EB-5 visa. This is the first step of your EB-5 process and is filed after making your EB-5 investment with the project. The I-526 is typically filed by an immigration attorney with USCIS, the US immigration agency that adjudicates EB-5 investor visa petitions. There is a lot of supporting paperwork like Source of funds documentation, tax returns, bank statements, etc that needs to be submitted with the 13 page I-526 form. After filing of the I-526 petition, USCIS will either approve, deny or issue an RFE/NOID to the applicant.
Request for Evidence (RFE) issued by USCIS seeking more clarifications or documents related to an investor’s EB-5 petition. An RFE can be issued by USCIS at the I-526 or the I-829 stage of the investor’s process, for deficiencies in the source of funds documentation or the project documentation. Ensuring that you hire an experienced EB-5 attorney minimizes the risk of getting an RFE.
Notice Of Intent to Deny. A NOID means that the USCIS intends to deny the I-526 or I-829 petition. Before it can deny the petition, USCIS must give the petitioner the opportunity to respond and rebut any information listed in the notice. A NOID is worse than a Request for Evidence (RFE) but better than a denial, because you still have the opportunity to get the petition approved if you timely respond to the NOID and resolve all of the USCIS’ concerns. Like I mentioned previously, an experienced EB-5 attorney ensures that NOIDs are avoided in the first place.
Once your I-526 is approved and you have finished your consular processing or adjustment of status, you will be given the conditional green card. After 21 months, you will have the opportunity to apply for a permanent green card by filing the I-829 petition. This needs to be filed before the end of the 24th month after receiving your condition green card.
EB-5 investment amount can be reduced to $900,000 (from $1.8 Million) depending upon whether the Regional Center can demonstrate that a project is located in a Targeted Employment Area which has experienced unemployment of at least 150% of the national average rate. These geographical areas are known as “Targeted Employment Areas” or TEAs. A project in a rural area is also classified as a TEA project
Final Action date is a date published by the USCIS’s Visa Bulletin and is updated monthly. When USCIS determines there are more immigrant visas available for the fiscal year than there are known applicants, you may use the Dates for Filing Applications chart to determine when to file an adjustment of status application with USCIS. Otherwise, you must use the Application Final Action Dates chart to determine when to file an adjustment of status application with USCIS.
The USCIS Visa bulletin is published monthly showing when an approved I-526 petitioner investor can apply for conditional green card. But, if country-wise I-526 petitions is greater than 7% (of 10,000 visas annually, including dependents), then there will be a delay (retrogression) for those investors seeking to apply for the EB-5 conditional GC.