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Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) in the EB-5 Program

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Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) in the EB-5 Program

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A targeted employment area as defined by immigration law means “an area which at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area which has experienced unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate”, targeted employment areas were introduced as part of the EB-5 program to encourage foreign investments and economic growth in these regions of great need by reducing the general required investment amount from $1,000,000 to $500,000 USD if the investment projects were established and operated in these areas. 

There are two types of Targeted Employment Areas, first of which is the rural areas, which are defined as the areas that are not within either a metropolitan statistical area or the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more. 

The second type of TEA’s is the High Unemployment areas, that are subject to an unemployment rate of at least 150 percent of the national average rate that is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Up until June 2019, the national unemployment rate was 3.7, therefore for an area to be designated within the criteria it must have an employment rate of 5.55 Percent (3.7*150). 

In the EB-5 program, these areas may change from time to time according to the different variables associated as the population may increase overtime in that specific geographic area, accordingly the immigration law dictates that the area in question may qualify as a targeted employment area at the time the investment is made or the Form I-526 immigrant petition is filed, whichever occurs first.

The evidence required by investor to demonstrate an area as a Targeted Employment Area must be  can be through the submission of Evidence that the area is outside of a metropolitan statistical area and outside of a city or town having a population of 20,000 or more; Unemployment data for the relevant metropolitan statistical area or county; or A letter from the state government designating a geographic or political subdivision located outside a rural area but within its own boundaries as a high unemployment area. 

Sources: 

USCIS – EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

Employment Security Department of Washington State

Federal Regulations of USCIS - Sec. 204.6 Petitions for employment creation aliens.

USCIS – Policy Manual / Eligibility Requirements