One Year After the Enactment of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act: What is the Data Showing Us about the New Era of EB-5?

Lee Y. Li, Director of Policy Research and Data Analytics at Invest in the USA (IIUSA), delves into the statistics.

In March 2022, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA) was passed in the US Congress and subsequently signed into law by President Biden. Several months later, in July 2022, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released new forms -Form I-526 (Standalone Investor Petition) and Form I-526E (Regional Centre Investor Petition) – as part of the RIA implementation, discontinuing the old Form I-526 (Alien Entrepreneurs Petition). A year later, in July 2023, USCIS began reporting data on three types of Form I-526 petitions: legacy I-526 petitions predating the RIA, new direct EB-5 investment Form I-526 (direct I-526), and the Form I-526E for Regional Centre EB-5 investment. Here are four key data points that we learned from the most recent statistics.

Over $1.5 Billion in Capital Investment has Been Raised Through EB-5 Since the Inception of the RIA

Based on our calculations, over $1.5 billion has been raised through the EB-5 programme since the inception of the RIA, and nearly $1.4 billion in capital investment has been generated through the programme in FY2023 alone. The amount of EB-5 investment generated in the first three quarters of FY2023 already represents a 190% increase from the amount of EB-5 investment raised in the entire FY2022.

Over $1.5 Billion Raised through EB-5 since RIA

Demand for EB-5 Continues to Grow Since RIA

USCIS received 1,558 I-526E petitions and 129 I-526 (direct EB-5) filings. The volume of I-526 filings, including both I-526 (direct EB-5) and I-526E, in the current fiscal year has already represented a 103% growth compared to the total number of I-526 petitions filed throughout all FY2022. In addition, 649 I-526E petitions were filed in Q3, FY2023, representing a 31% growth from the previous quarter. The number of I-526E filings has increased consecutively in each quarter since the inception of the form in Q4 FY2022, indicating the continuing growth in demand for EB-5 Regional Centre projects among investors across the globe.

Continued Growth of the Demand for EB-5 Figure 2: Number of Form I-526E and I-526 (Direct) Filed by Quarter

Higher Case Adjudication Volume in FY2023

USCIS processed 1,930 legacy I-526 cases in the first three quarters of FY2023, marking a 60% increase from the total I-526 adjudication volume in FY2022. Although USCIS did not disclose any data on the number of I-526 (direct) and I-526E cases that have been adjudicated, we believe that the agency has already started approving I-526E cases that are associated with investment in an EB-5 project located within a rural area. Overall, the increase of case adjudication should translate into the improvement of case processing time for I-526 petitions.

As USCIS continues to process a relatively large number of legacy I-526 cases in FY2023, the number of pending legacy I-526 petitions continues to decline. As of the end of Q3, FY2023, there were 10,802 pending legacy I-526 cases, which represents a 7% decrease from the previous quarter. The backlog of legacy I-526 cases has been reduced by 16% since the beginning of FY2023.

Higher Case Filing and Adjudication Volume in FY2023
Figure 3: YOY Data Comparison for Form I-526s Filed, Adjudicated & Pending

Approval Rate of Pre-RIA I-526 Cases Dropped Significantly in the Last Two Fiscal Years

Since FY2022, the average approval rate of legacy I-526 cases has seen a significant decline. Particularly, less than half of the I-526 cases that were adjudicated in FY2022 received an approval from USCIS, marking the lowest approval level in the 32-year history of the EB-5 programme. In the first three quarters of FY2023, the average approval rate of pre- RIA I-526 petitions was 68%, bouncing back from the historical low but remaining at the second-lowest level observed in the last 10 years. USCIS has not released any information shedding light on the reasons behind the recent surge in legacy I-526 case denials.

Approval Rate of Pre-RIA I-526 Cases Remain at a Historical Low
Figure 4: Average Approval Rate of Form I-526 (Legacy) by Fiscal Year

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