Investing in an EB-5 project in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) has a substantial advantage: Rather than being required to invest a minimum investment of $1 million, investors only need to come up with half that amount--$500,000. This makes it much easier to obtain investors and needed capital for an EB-5 project.
How Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) are Designated
Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) fall into two categories: rural areas or high-unemployment areas.
Rural areas are defined by the Office of Management and Budget as areas not within a metropolitan area and not at the edge of an area that has a population equal to or greater than 20,000, as indicated by the most recent U.S. Census.
TEAs that are designated as such based on the unemployment rate are areas where the number of unemployed workers is 150% of the national average or greater. These areas are not located in rural areas. In contrast, an area classified as a TEA due to high unemployment must have a population of 20,000 or more.
Investors who select an EB-5 project for investment that is located in a TEA must clearly identify the TEA on Form I-526.
Investing in a TEA Through a Regional Center
Regional centers offer several benefits to interested EB-5 investors. Regional center investments are ideal for investors who do not want to be fully involved with the day-to-day aspects of the investment project and who are purely interested in obtaining permanent resident status. Not all regional centers are equal in experience and skill, however. Investors should always investigate potential regional centers thoroughly before making their selection. Regional centers will be able to provide you with information regarding the TEA status of their project locations before you make your decision.
Obtaining Proof of TEA Status
If investors wish to take advantage of the reduced investment requirement that applies to projects in TEAs, they must provide proof of TEA designation, which should accompany their initial I-526 petition. This confirmation of designation can be obtained from various state agencies. If the investor is choosing to invest $1 million anyway, this proof is not necessary.
Acceptable evidence of TEA designation includes statistical data showing unemployment rates in the area and/or population counts.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Local Area Unemployment Statistics office can provide information regarding unemployment in a given area. You can also write to state agencies for a letter confirming the population or unemployment status of the area. State agencies can also provide a letter designating a particular area as a TEA, which can be attached to Form I-526. USCIS requires every investor to submit adequate evidence of TEA designation for their selected EB-5 project before adjudicating a petition with an investment under $1 million. Most state governments also include a list of all designated TEAs in the state on their respective websites.