Free Targeted Employment Area (TEA) Map for all 50 States
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How to Get A TEA Letter: Step by Step Instructions
A Targeted Employment Area (TEA) is defined by the USCIS as a High Unemployment or Rural Area. The minimum qualifying EB-5 investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States is currently $500,000.
A targeted employment area is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area experiencing unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate. The current national average unemployment rate for 2014 was 6.2%, so the minimum qualifying threshold for EB-5 projects today in high unemployment areas is 9.3%.
A rural area is any area outside a metropolitan statistical area as designated by the Office of Management and Budget or outside the boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the most recent decennial or 2010 census.
If your project is located in a rural area then it automatically qualifies as a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and you can get in touch with the correct state agency to issue an official EB-5 TEA Approval letter.
Most EB-5 projects are not located within rural areas, but are located in targeted high unemployment areas as defined by the USCIS.
Even if your project is not located in a rural area, it may still qualify as a targeted high unemployment area with a combined unemployment rate that is 150% of the national average rate. The current national average rate for 2014 is 6.2% so the required level of unemployment to qualify is 9.3%.
The first step is to determine the census tract that the potential EB-5 regional center project is located in. For this, you will need the exact address of the project location. Enter the EB-5 project address into our TEA Map to determine the 2010 census tract that your project is located within. Our TEA Map will indicate whether or not the specific tract that your project is located in automatically qualifies as a TEA.
If your project is located in a census tract that automatically qualifies for a TEA according to our TEA Map then all you need to do is contact the correct state agency with your EB-5 regional center project’s address and formally request a TEA letter.
If your project is not located in a census tract that automatically qualifies for a TEA according to our TEA Map then you may want to try a combination of surrounding, contiguous census tracts to see if a combination of census tracts together results in the required level of unemployment to qualify as a TEA. This method of combining census tracts is an approved method that may allow a project located in a census tract that does not automatically qualify as a TEA to qualify using a combination of surrounding, contiguous census tracts. If you believe your project may qualify using the census tract combination method you can reach out to the correct state agency directly with a list of selected census tracts that result in the required unemployment rate and see if it will be approved. There are no guarantees, but we have had success in getting the vast majority of our TEA letter requests approved.
Some state agencies will allow a petitioner to submit their own calculated request for a TEA letter if it does not automatically qualify in the exact census tract or as a rural area and will help the petitioner to determine if the location may be approved using the census tract combination method.
Please keep in mind that there is some variation across state agencies as to the number of census tracts that can be combined together for a specific project. Some states, such as California set a specific number of census tracts that can be combined together. Currently, the number of census tracts that can be combined together in California is 12 census tracts. However, other states such as Florida and Pennsylvania are much more flexible and we have helped clients obtain TEA letters for regions with more than 60 combined census tracts together. See sample of our work and resulting TEA approval letter by clicking here.
Sample TEA Letter & Supporting Materials for TEA Letter Approval Request