EB-5: How to Expedite Your EB-5 Petition
What Is an EB-5 Expedite Request?
Unlike other forms of immigration petitions, premium processing is not available for the EB-5 category. However, there is one way EB-5 petitioners can greatly speed up the processing time—the USCIS request to expedite the process. This process involves submitting a request to the USCIS to expedite an EB-5-related petition or application, including Forms I-924 Application for Regional Center, I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and the I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions.
EB-5 expedite requests require a high burden of extensive evidence demonstrating some particularly worthwhile need to speed up the review process, and they are granted solely at the discretion of USCIS. Despite this extra effort, approval of the request can greatly reduce the processing time from up to a year to just a few quick months, which for many EB-5 investors is crucial to the success of their financial endeavors or personal needs.
If you have questions regarding the EB-5 immigrant investor visa category, please contact our Columbus immigration attorneys or call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates at the nearest office close to you to consult with an attorney.
How Can I Get My EB-5 Expedite Request Approved?
The USCIS reviews EB-5 expedite requests on a case-by-case basis, and they grant approval at the discretion of the service center director. Only the petitioner or their attorney may make the expedite request—any other parties involved may not do so, even if they are the ones who would primarily benefit from speeding up the process. The service center director will approve an EB-5 request when the petitioner can show one or more criteria exists, and that approving the expedite request will help the situation or avoid a negative outcome. These criteria are:
- Severe financial loss to an individual or the company will result,
- An extreme emergent situation (danger of human rights violations or persecution,)
- A humanitarian situation, (pressing medical or health-related need,)
- Nonprofit status of an organization that furthers the cultural and social interests of the U.S.,
- A Department of Defense or national interest situation,
- USCIS error, or
- Other compelling USCIS interests.
What Is “Severe Financial Loss”?
This is the most frequently used reason to make an expedite request. If you can clearly demonstrate that your business will suffer severe financial loss unless the USCIS expedites your EB-5 petition, the USCIS may grant an approval. The most important factor that they will examine is whether your hardship is a self-imposed one. They may not grant a request, for example, if you have placed your funds voluntarily into an escrow account, only to be released upon the approval of your EB-5 petition. If, however, you placed your funds into an escrow account for reasons outside of your control, such as when a project will not release your escrow funds until a certain number of other EB-5 petitions are approved, then the USCIS may grant your request to expedite.
When requesting to expedite for severe financial loss, it is very important that you emphasize and document the evidence of factors outside of your control that would lead to the severe financial loss, unless your petition is processed quickly.
What Are “Extreme Emergent Situations”?
To meet this expedition requirement, you must be faced with an individual, personal emergency. It could be an issue with human rights violations, the persecution of minorities or any personal problem you may be struggling with that is not a self-imposed emergency.
What Are “Humanitarian Situations”?
These situations typically occur when you have family members with a pressing need for urgent medical care or treatment that is unavailable or inadequate in your home country. This can include medical care, treatment, or the supervision of the very young or very old.
What Is the “Nonprofit Status of the Requesting Organization”?
The USCIS may approve your expedite request if your regional center is set up as a nonprofit. To qualify, the regional center project must be one that is beneficial to the “cultural and social interests of the United States.” This often means that the regional center is one established by state or local government entities in order to give local businesses access to regional center investment funds. It is important to remember, that the petitioner/applicant must be the one to actually request for the process to be expedited.
What Is a “Department of Defense or National Interest Situation”?
This situation often occurs when your project involves government work such as infrastructure upgrades, port or airport renovations, or national security-related projects. It could even include projects designed to attract foreign commerce or trade to the U.S., or projects involving art, culture, or history if related to government entities or organizations.
This reason for an expedite request is perhaps the surest way to receive approval, however, it requires help from a U.S. federal government official. The official must state in a written letter that the delay in processing your application/petition would be detrimental to U.S. government interests. Sometimes, a letter from a U.S. government official will not be enough, and the official may need to personally inquire into the status of your EB-5 petition, or you may even need to hire a lobbyist on your behalf. It may be helpful in this situation to contact your local Congressperson, and the assistance of state or local government officials can also be beneficial.
What Are “USCIS Errors” or “Compelling USCIS Interests”?
Sometimes, even the USCIS can make a mistake. This can lead to a delay in processing or an improper denial of your EB-5 petition requiring you to re-file. In these hopefully rare situations, you will likely have a strong case to have your expedite request approved.
Another curious reason for granting an expedite request is for a “compelling USCIS interest.” While this is a little understood phrase, we can look to the USCIS Mission Statement that defines its organizational goals, and evidence that speeding up your petition will further these goals could be used to support the approval of your expedite request.
Contact Us for Assistance with Your EB-5
Obtaining EB-5 status is can be very complicated and requires extensive understanding of several areas of law including tax, corporate, investment, as well as immigration. It is recommended to obtain competent and professional legal counsel with the requisite experience necessary to handle these types of cases.
The attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA have decades of combined experience in successfully navigating through such complex areas. Contact us by email or phone at (800) 625-3404 for a consultation to discuss your planned investment and how we can represent your interests effectively.
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