Visa processing backlogs are unfortunately part of the process when one applies for a “green card”. President Joe Biden recently helped to remedy this situation by signing a federal spending bill that provides more funding for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This provision could help the State Department reduce its processing backlog.
The bill provides $275 million in funding for USCIS to address processing backlogs and delays. The COVID-19 pandemic and staffing issues related to the pandemic have exacerbated backlogs across visa categories. Reducing the backlog is now one of USCIS’s top priorities.
The bill also reauthorises the EB-5 Regional Center Programme, which allows qualifying foreign investors to apply for green cards. Funding for the EB-5 program lapsed on June 30, 2021; Congress has now revived it through September 2027 (read more about this exciting bit of news here) link to related blog.
One of the most significant changes brought by the bill – especially for potential investors already working or studying in the US on a visa – is the ability to file Form I-526 and Form I-485 at the same time. This “EB-5 Concurrent Filing” allows investors living in the United States on non-immigrant visas to apply for adjustment of status when filing their I-526 petitions.
This is a significant improvement because before, EB-5 investors had to wait for their I-526 petitions to be approved before filing for adjustment of status. To remain in the United States after filing their I-526 petitions, investors had to maintain their status on some other visa until they could file to adjust their status.
EB-5 investors who adjust status from H-1B or E-2 can apply for work authorisation that is not tied to a sponsoring employer or investment business. Such investors may work for any employer – or choose not to work at all – without jeopardising their status.
Another development that is creating more leeway for some potential EB-5 investors is the announcement by the Department of Homeland Security to expand the categories of petitions and applications eligible for Premium Processing services.
Premium Processingis an optional premium service offered by USCIS for expedited processing of applications for a fee, over and above the original costs of the application.
Previously, expedited adjudication under Premium Processing services was available only to petitioners filing a Form I-129, Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker, and to certain petitioners filing a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.
Under the new rule, availability of Premium Processing services is expanded to certain additional classifications under Form I-140, as well as certain applications to extend or change non-immigrant status (Form I-539), and applications for Employment Authorisation or EADs (Form I-765) which EB-5 investors would be eligible for once applying for Adjustment of Status, with further planned expansions in the pipeline.
Making your dream of making the move to the U.S., a reality, has become easier to attain with recent changes in legislation. Speak to our team of experts at American Dream; we will guide you through every step of the process, using our expertise to ease your application process.