In Q3, USCIS approved 79 percent of I-526 petitions, while for the fiscal year up to June, USCIS had denied about 30 percent of all I-526 petitions, the largest denial rate ever for EB-5. To put it into perspective, only 12 percent of all I-526 petitions were denied last year.
A contributing factor to this unusually high denial rate comes from investors whose source of funds include a loan. Such loans may not have been collateralized by the investor’s own property, therefore violating EB-5’s “at-risk” condition and justifying a denial of the petition. Additionally, USCIS has requested that some investors provide information on employers and assets for the previous 20-30 years. The increase in denials is clearly a result of this deeper scrutiny, and signals to investors that need to work with qualified and experienced attorneys.
Aside from I-526 data, USCIS also released statistics on I-829 petitions. The third quarter of 2016 saw 24 percent of I-829 petitions denied, while the 2016 fiscal year through June saw just 6 percent overall denial of I-829s.
In terms of pending petitions, as of June 2016, USCIS has nearly 20,000 pending I-526 petitions and over 5,000 I-829 petitions, both of which have contributed to longer processing times. Nicholas Colucci, director of the EB-5 Investor Program, has responded to this positively though, announcing the hiring of more staff to manage the abundance in petitions.