Understanding the Carryover of Unused EB-5 Reserved Visas

When there are unused EB-5 Reserved Visas at the end of a fiscal year, these visa numbers are carried over to the following fiscal year. These unused reserved (set aside) visas are then combined with the number of new EB5 visas made available each fiscal year. Of the total annual newly available EB 5 visas, 32% are allocated to the reserved category. Applicants who invest in rural, high-unemployment, and infrastructure projects after the implementation of the Reform and Integrity Act (RIA) are the beneficiaries of these set aside categories. 

EB-5 Set Aside categories reflect “current” final action dates on the visa bulletin. This means that you are not subject to visa backlog as a reserved EB5 visa investor. The carryover of unused set aside visas also allows for more visa numbers to be available under this category. Our article will guide you through the key information you need to know about the allocation and carryover of EB5 Reserved Visas. EB5 BRICS has successfully assisted immigrant investors in qualifying for EB 5 Visa Set Asides for a faster Green Card application. 

How Does the Carryover of Unused EB-5 Reserved Visas Work?

The unused EB-5 Reserved Visas at the end of each fiscal year are carried over to the next fiscal year (FY) starting every October 1 and ending on September 30 of the following fiscal year. Following the Reform and Integrity Act (RIA), the total number of EB-5 visas allotted to immigrant investors each fiscal year will be a combination of the following. 

  • The limit for the new fiscal year, which is 7.1% of the worldwide employment-based annual limit. This is statutorily set at 140,000 plus any unused Family-sponsored numbers from the previous fiscal year. 
  • Any unused reserved visa numbers carried over from the immediate prior fiscal year.
  • The unused carried over reserved visas that are not needed for use in the current fiscal year. These visas will be “made available” to the unreserved visa numbers limit.  

EB-5 Reserved Visa Allocation

In the Invest in the USA’s 2023 Leadership Summit, Dr. Michael Hanley, Data Scientist from the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State, mentioned that the use of carryover visas will be prioritized before the “regular” EB5 visa numbers. For instance, of the total of 8,113 Reserved EB-5 Visas available for FY 2024, the 4,478 carryover visas from FY 2023 will be used first. The remaining 3,635 “regular” EB5 visas will only be utilized if the carryover visas are not enough to meet the demand. In this case, the Department of State (DOS) can permit the highest number of reserved visas to be carried over to the following fiscal year to maximize visa availability.

How are EB-5 Reserved Visas Allocated?

Of the total annual newly available EB5 visas, 32% are allocated to the reserved (set aside) category. EB5 Reserved Visa allocation depends on the type of project that you’re investing in.

  • 20% to rural Targeted Employment Area (TEA) investors (2,000 visas). 
  • 10% to high-unemployment TEA investors (1,000 visas).
  • 2% to Infrastructure project investors (200 visas).

Investing in these EB-5 Set Aside categories also benefits you and your family through faster processing of your Form I-526 or I-526E. 

How Do Unused Carryover EB-5 Reserved Visas Affect Future Visa Availability?

A total of 6,396 EB5 visas were allocated to the set-aside category in FY 2022 but were left unused. Under the RIA, these unused EB 5 visas from FY 2022 will be carried over to the unreserved category in FY 2024. Since the annual limit for worldwide employment-based immigrant visas is estimated to be 160,000, there will be 11,360 new EB 5 visas available for FY 2024. Of these EB-5 visa numbers, 7,724 will go to the unreserved category. Therefore, a total of 14,120 EB-5 visas are expected to be available for the unreserved category for FY 2024.

The table below shows the estimates for unused reserved visa carryover from FY 2022 and FY 2023 to FY 2024. 

FY 2022 FY 2023 FY 2024
Worldwide Limit 281,507 197,091 160,000
Newly Available EB-5 Visas (7.1%) 19,987 13,993 11,360
Unreserved (68% of newly available visas) 13,591 9,515 7,724
Reserved (32% of newly available visas) 6,396 4,478 3,635
Carryover Visas added to Reserved Category 6,396 4,478
Carryover Visas added to Unreserved Category 6,396
Total Unreserved Visas 13,591 9,515 14,210
Total Reserved Visas 6,396 10,874 8,113

How Do EB-5 Reserved Visas Affect Post-RIA Investors?

The DOS reports that no EB-5 set aside visas were issued to post-RIA investors for FY 2023. The issuance of set aside visas for post-RIA investors is expected in late FY 2024 now that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved I-526E petitions.

How Do EB-5 Reserved Visas Affect Pre-RIA Investors?

Foreign investors who applied before the enactment of the RIA in 2022 are unable to obtain EB 5 Reserved Visas even if they are qualified based on TEA or infrastructure project investment. However, the RIA allows the unused EB 5 visa set-asides from FY2022 to be carried over to unreserved categories. This carryover is expected to alleviate the backlog for pre-RIA investors for FY 2024.  

What are the Final Action Dates for EB-5 Reserved Visas?

The final action dates for EB-5 Set Aside categories are shown to be “current” based on the DOS Visa Bulletin. Final action dates for EB 5 Reserved Visas may need to be issued by the second half of FY 2024 based on the current USCIS processing times. Should priority processing result in expedited approval of EB-5 petitions, the final action dates for EB5 set asides can be released earlier in FY 2024. 

Do EB-5 Reserved Visas Help with the Visa Backlog?

Yes, an EB 5 Reserved Visa is available to an eligible investor regardless of their country of origin. This is extremely beneficial for post-RIA investors from backlogged countries such as China. However, a current priority date at the time of filing the I-526/I-526E petition does not guarantee that an immigrant investor will not face a visa backlog in the future. The possibility of a visa backlog will depend on the volume of applications for EB-5 Set Aside categories. 

Do Country Caps Apply to EB-5 Reserved Visa Availability?  

Yes, the country cap for EB5 Visas applies even to the reserved category. EB 5 rules state that no country can obtain more than 7% of the total number of visas made available in a fiscal year under the “per country” limitations. The country cap restricts the advantages of a quicker issuance of Reserved EB5 Visas especially for high-volume countries such as China, Vietnam, India, and South Korea. The usage of unused EB-5 Visas, which would be made available in priority date order without respect to the foreign state of chargeability, could be advantageous for investors from these countries. 

EB5 BRCIS and EB-5 Reserved Visas

EB5 BRICS is the expert in immigration through investment under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. We have successfully helped our investors apply for Reserved EB-5 Visas and priority processing. Contact us for more information on Rural TEA Projects to qualify for an EB5 Reserved Visa.