In the second quarter of FY16, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that for the first time since the EB-5 program’s inception, I-829 petition filings have outnumbered receipts of I-526 petitions, indicating that the “I-829 bubble” is here.

After the 2008 financial crisis, EB-5 became an increasingly popular source of capital as traditional funding sources dried up. Since 2008, use of the EB-5 program has grown steadily and dramatically. EB-5 investors file the I-526 petition at the beginning of their EB-5 immigration process. Once their I-526 is approved—a process that can take upwards of a year and a half due to USCIS processing backlogs—investors are able to begin their two year conditional residency period.

Once those two years have passed, investors are able to file an I-829 petition to remove conditions on their permanent residence. If their investment has met EB-5 program requirements, they then become legal permanent residence and achieve immigration success.

This two year delay between I-526 and I-829 petition filings provides a forecast of I-829 filings in the years to come. As the chart above demonstrates, the increase in I-526 filings in FY08 correlated with a spike in I-829 petition receipts in FY11, and increases in FY12 and FY13 correlate with a FY15 jump in I-829 filings.

As I-526 filings have continued to rise, NES Financial predicted an unprecedented number of I-829 petitions would eventually be filed, revealing, several years after the fact, the true viability of the many new projects and players making use of EB-5 funding. The steady increases in I-829 filings we have seen over the last few fiscal years certainly promise that this “I-829 bubble” is coming to a head.

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