The Latest EB-5 Stakeholder Meeting Shows USCIS Is Still Trying to Catch Up With EB-5 Program Growth
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At the most recent EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program stakeholder engagement on March 3, 2017,USCIS officials provided updates on steps that the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) is taking to try to keep pace with the growing EB-5 program. IPO Chief Nicholas Colucci acknowledged that the IPO remains behind in case processing and shared the following unofficial case processing statistics for FY 2017 Q1 (October 1, 2016–December 31, 2016): 4,395 I-526 petitions received and 3,583 adjudicated; 752 I-829 petitions received and 88 adjudicated; and 184 I-924 applications received and 112 adjudicated. He said that the IPO currently has 157 employees on board but is authorized to hire up to 247 in FY 2017, and that staffing increases are expected to positively impact processing times.
Mr. Colucci noted that although the IPO is subject to the broad federal government hiring freeze ordered by President Donald Trump in January, USCIS has received an exemption for the IPO adjudicator position, which will allow the ongoing hiring of such positions despite the freeze. In addition, he said the IPO has recently created a division focusing on I-829 adjudications and customer service inquiries which, once fully staffed and trained, is expected to result in increased I-829 adjudications. The division is structured to consist of 3 teams of 8 adjudicators and economists each, and about 18 of the total 24 positions have been filled thusfar. The IPO’s case processing efforts have been challenged in the past few years by filing surges related to the Regional Center Program’s expiration date and its numerous short-term extensions by Congress. The most recent surge occurred ahead of the program’s previous sunset date of December 11, 2016, and a similar surge is expected before the program’s previous sunset date of April 28, 2017.