EB-5 Visa Supply and Demand for Set Asides – What’s Next?

Posted on Apr 1, 2024 by Chris Prescott

The America Immigrant Investor Alliance (AIIA) has recently released data on EB-5 supply and demand for reserved or set-aside categories. This data was obtained from USCIS through various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. This information is crucial for estimating and predicting wait times for prospective investors interested in the visa set-aside categories.

Since the enactment of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA), there has been a significant increase in demand for EB-5 visas. This is mainly due to the introduction of set-aside visas that allow new investors to avoid the pre-RIA visa backlog.

The data obtained by AIIA reveals a notable increase in demand for projects in rural areas and high demand for projects in high-unemployment areas, potentially surpassing annual availability. Specifically, there has been a substantial rise in I-526E petitions for rural projects following July 2023. This is based on how many I-526 and I-526E petitions were filed. By November 2023, the high unemployment category was on track to experience a backlog and visa wait times, whereas the rural category seemed to have some buffer. With the rural to high unemployment visa supply ratio at 2 to 1, AIIA predicts surpassing of annual availability for the latter category. This backlog is particularly concerning for Chinese and Indian investors, given their substantial demand, but it is limited to 7% of available visas plus any leftover visas from the rest of the world.

Furthermore, 2023 witnessed increased an overall demand for China, whereas demand from India and other countries remained stable. Notably, there was substantial demand from the Rest of the World (ROW) in the high unemployment category, which hints at a potential backlog for ROW investors as well.

However, gauging the demand and wait times requires obtaining and navigating intricate variables and data, not all of which are readily accessible, including future approval and denial rates, the progression of approved cases to the visa stage, and the number of dependents associated with each application. The more consistent data and information that USCIS provides, the better empowered immigration attorneys are at assisting investors in making more informed decisions.

To learn more about the EB-5 visa set-aside categories, please visit our blog site at https://patellegal.com/blog/category/immigration-blog/.

If you have any questions regarding the EB-5 process or your place in line for a green card, please e-mail us at rpatel@patellegal.com and jtrevino@patellegal.com