MUMBAI: A new announcement by the immigration agency of the US government, relating to processing of applications for the EB5 visa – also known as cash for green card, is a mixed bag for rich Indians, who typically opt for this quicker route.
It will impact not only new applicants, but also those who are in queue for processing of their visa applications and could result in some delays in obtaining the coveted green card.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services, on January 29, has announced a process change for Form I-526 (the application for an EB5 visa), from a first-in, first-out basis to a visa availability approach. This could result in some delays for Indian investors in obtaining a green card. Non-backlogged countries (those other than China, Vietnam and India), will see a faster processing of their visa applications.
“It would lengthen the timeline that an Indian applicant would have to wait to get their Form I-526 application adjudicated thereby increasing anxiety and subjecting the application to future unofficial changes in the way applications are adjudicated,” Mitchell Wexler, California-based partner, at Fragomen, a global immigration law firm told TOI.
On the flip side, immigration experts, point out that the age of the child freezes while the application is pending. Thus, even if a child has crossed the biological age of 21, he or she could be covered under the investor visa with the family. “Families with older children, actually want their petitions to pend for a longer period of time,” said Wexler.
The time for a Form I-526 to be processed is the same for anyone from any country – USCIS had posted that it takes between 32.5 to 49.5 months. “Upon filing the I-526 a priority date is given which establishes your place in line. In other words, after the initial EB5 application is approved, the priority date must become current (your number must come up on the waiting list), for you to continue with the process of obtaining a green card,” explains Snehal Batra,
managing attorney at NPZ law group.
Pankaj Joshi, Managing Director at Nysa Global, an immigration advisory outfit, illustrated with a processing time wait of four years (48 months) and a scenario of an immediate approval of the green card vis-à-vis an approval in three years.
If a child is 19 years at the time of filing, if the green card approval is immediate, the child will age out (be 23 years old) when the visa is available. On the other hand, if the green card approval takes three years, the child will be (23 years minus three years, which is 20 years) and will be covered, explained Joshi.
USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans said, “This new approach increases fairness, allowing qualified EB-5 petitioners from traditionally underrepresented countries to have their petitions approved in a more timely fashion to receive consideration for a visa.”
Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued annually, with a 7% per country cap, India is estimated to have touched this limit. If a country doesnt meet the cap, the unused visa quota is redistributed to other countries. After holding a conditional green card for 21 months, the investor, his or her spouse and children (below 21 years) obtain a permanent residency, provided all conditions relating to investments,Read More – Source