What’s the I-526?
Form I-526, in immigration law, is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form that must be filled out by foreign investors who want to live and work in the U.S. under an EB-5 investor visa. The entire form is thirteen pages long and asks various questions regarding the background of the applicant, information on the investment, and information on how the investment will create U.S. jobs.
Immigration rules are not very clear as to all of the requirements which must be met by foreign investors applying for an EB-5 visa, which is why investors should seek the assistance of experienced legal counsel in filling out the form and providing correct evidence, so they can be sure the forms are filled out correctly and have the highest chance as possible of being approved. Even a slight error in filling out the form or/and missing required evidence could mean the difference between an approval and a denial.
How Long Does It Take?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, processing time for the I-526 was 24 months, but now it states on the USCIS webpage that the processing time is between 36-99 months. This means that applicants may be required to wait up to thee years or more before they hear whether or not their application has been approved.
Having to wait before knowing the status of an application can be stressful, but waiting so long only to hear that an application was denied can be even worse. This is why it is best to let an attorney handle filling out and filing the form from the beginning. If the form is filled out properly the first time, it could mean a much quicker transition to the United States for the investor.
Another way to prevent delays with I-526 processing is to ensure the requirements for the EB-5 visa have been met before the I-526 has been filled out. However, before an investment is even made, an attorney should be consulted to ensure the enterprise into which the investor wants to invest is a qualifying investment for the purpose of being awarded an EB-5 visa. Investing in an unqualified enterprise could lead investors to waste both time and money while they attempt to fix their mistakes.
While Waiting for a Response
After they submit their I-526 application, there is nothing much that investors can do but wait for a response. To stay occupied, investors are encouraged to continue monitoring their investment from overseas or with the occasional trip into the U.S. under the status of a tourist.
Additional investment into a non-immigrant investment visa such as E-2 could potentially allow the I-526 application to move to the United States while waiting for the EB-5 visa approval. If they are working with an attorney on the matter, the attorney will be able to assist with looking into possible E-2 visa application process, eligibility, and investment requirements to be able to move to the U.S. for I-526 application and family to be able to live, work, and attend school in the U.S. while waiting for the EB-5 application decision.
Until something is heard, the investor can assume that the application is still processing. Calling USCIS to inquire on the status of the application is not recommended, as little information will be able to be provided over the phone. Questions should be held until after the forecasted processing time and preferably routed through an attorney. It should be noted that persistent calls and questions regarding the status of an application do not make applications move any faster.