The latest EB-5 visa retrogression data reveals that mainland China remains the largest source of applications for the visa.
However, 2018 was the first year since 2013, when China hit its annual quota cap for the first time, that cumulative applications from other countries outnumbered Chinese EB-5 applications.
In 2018, other countries accounted for 52 per cent of EB-5 visas allotted, while China accounted for 48 percent.
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Following China are Vietnam and India with significant growth in application numbers.
Vietnam hit its annual quota cap for the first time in 2018. The cap is hit when the US receives more than 7.1 per cent of the annual allocation of 10,000 EB-5 visas from a single country.
EB-5 applicants from India surged from just 1.7 percent of the annual allocation in 2017 to 6.1 percent in 2018. According to the US Department of State projections, India is likely to utilize its quota in full by July 2019 or earlier.
This means India is expected to become the third country after China and Vietnam to face visa retrogression under the EB-5 visa program.
Visa retrogression occurs when demand from a country exceeds the annual quota available to that country, resulting in a backlog that will be adjusted in future years.
The net effect of visa retrogression is that applicants face processing delays and have to wait longer to receive the EB-5 visa after qualification.
Estimated Waiting Period
Applicants born in mainland China are, as of October 2018, facing a potential waiting period of 14 years between filing an I-526 petition and issuance of the EB-5 visa.
Applicants from Vietnam are facing a waiting period of more than seven years, while Indian applicants will have to wait nearly six years to obtain their EB-5 visas.
For countries not facing visa retrogression, such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Brazil, the maximum waiting time is roughly two years.
Once the visa is available, the applicant can seek unconditional permanent residence in the US and enjoy all the benefits and privileges of a US green card holder.
The long waiting period can be significant for children of EB-5 applicants.
As per the Child Status Protection Act, any unmarried child aged less than 21 years is eligible to obtain permanent residence as a derivative of the principal EB-5 applicant. An ineligible child will have to independently apply for the EB-5 visa or otherwise qualify for permanent residence in the US.
In the case of China, an investor applying in October 2018 with an
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