Should I appeal a denial of I-526 or I-829 to AAO?
Unless you feel you really have a very strong case, I don't recommend appealing the case to AAO, mainly because the track record of AAO reversing USCIS' denial is non-existent. Read the below content before you decide to appeal your denial to AAO.
Center for Immigration Studies is lauding AAO's track record for consistently denying immigration appeals cases. See: http://www.cis.org/north/aao-box-scores
In particular, for EB-5 cases, EB-5 investors are batting zero out of 50 appeals. See below content:
Immigrant Investors. There were 42 dismissals, four withdrawals by the petitioners, three remands, and one moot case. No appeals were sustained. In about three-quarters of the cases lawyers were involved, but not very successfully. There were only 49 decisions in this category in 2009, so the last one in 2008 was added to bring the total to 50.
I would like to think that this track record of 100% affirmation of USCIS denials reflects the great adjudication skills by USCIS, but no agency can be 100% accurate all the time, or can it? We have yet to hear AAO overturning USCIS denial of an EB-5 petition (either I-526 or I-829).
Another thing AAO often does is it rephrases the actual facts of the case to support the conclusion it wants to reach. Also, AAO will often find additional grounds to deny the case.
I think what this actually shows is that when it comes to the EB-5 law, USCIS and AAO have many ways to deny cases if it wants to deny them.
* For your information, many EB-5 practitioners complain that AAO is a rubber-stamping facility of USCIS when it comes to EB-5 cases, and AAO will actually find additional grounds for denials on top of the grounds relied upon in USCIS decisions!