Free Targeted Employment Area (TEA) Map for all 50 States
Search Any Address & Combine Census Tracts to Immediately Determine TEA Eligibility
Click Image to View the TEA Map
Targeted Employment Area (TEA) Map User Guide
The map identifies high unemployment areas that may qualify as a targeted employment area (TEA) for the purposes of the USCIS EB-5 program. Targeted employment areas may consist of a state, county, MSA, city or tract with an unemployment rate greater than 150% of the national average as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Areas of high unemployment (by census tract) are highlighted in ORANGE in the map. Additional labor force and employment data are available by clicking on specific locations.
Combining High and Low Unemployment Census Tracts
In many states, targeted employment areas may also be established by combining multiple contiguous census tracts where the unemployment rate of the combined region exceeds the high unemployment threshold. This is very common and will many EB-5 projects utilize this approach. The specific rules for combining census tracts varies by state agency, but many agencies are quite flexible when it comes to issuing combined census tract TEA letters. To view a list of all State Agencies, please click here. Additionally, rural areas also qualify as targeted employment areas.
To qualify as a rural area TEA, the rural area must be both outside of a metropolitan statistical area and outside of a city or town having a population of 20,000 or more.
Unemployment data for census tracts were calculated using the census-share methodology as permitted by the USCIS using the Bureau of Labor Statistics annual average unemployment data and the American Community Survey census tract data.
TEA Map Terms and Conditions
We have made every effort to ensure that the information and material on this website map is and remains accurate. However no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made or given about accuracy, completeness or suitability of the information or material for a particular purpose. Use of this website is at the risk of the user and we shall not be liable for any claim damage or loss whatsoever which may arise or result from such use. We will not be liable for any loss or damage which may arise including, without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damages whatsoever arising from the use or loss of use of, data or profits arising out of or in connection with the use of this website.
Why TEA Designation is Critical for All EB-5 Projects
Securing targeted employment area (TEA) designation for an EB-5 project attracts more EB-5 investors because it halves the required investment amount. For projects located in non-TEA areas, the required investment amount is $1 million; for projects located in TEA areas, the required investment amount decreases to only $500,000. Most EB-5 investors invest in these projects because this offers a clear path to obtaining a green card, so they are not motivated to risk double the amount of capital needed to invest in an EB-5 project.
For TEA designation, an EB-5 project must be situated in a rural area or in an area in which the unemployment rate is at least 50% higher than the national average. An official TEA letter forms part of the I-526 immigration petition application package, as it providproof that the EB-5 project makes the investor eligible for the reduced $500,000 investment. Furthermore, most of the projects available through USCIS-approved regional centers are located in TEAs.
1. TEA locations in high unemployment areas
To secure designation as a TEA location due to high unemployment, the unemployment rate in the EB-5 project area must be at least 150% of the average national unemployment rate for the United States. In 2018, this average was 3.9%, so currently, to qualify as a TEA based on high unemploymentan area must have an unemployment rate of at least 5.9% (3.9 * 150%). In addition,it must be in a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or county with a population of 20,000 or higher.
2. TEA locations in rural areas
To acquire TEA designation for project locations in rural areas, these locations must meet several criteria. First, the project location must fall outside of an MSA, as identified by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. The U.S. Census Bureau offers a comprehensive map of all MSAs.
Second, the area must not be located just outside a city or town with a population higher than 20,000 people according to the most recent 10-year census count. However, if the population increases after the submission of the I-526, USCIS will still recognize the area as a TEA if it qualified as such at the time of submission.
Note: The I-526 petition does not need to include a TEA designation letter when the TEA designation is based on the project’s location in a rural area. Instead, the TEA documentation included with the petition must show that the EB-5 project location meets the criteria for a rural TEA described above, as specified by USCIS.
TEA designation approval by USCIS
USCIS reviews TEA designations for each individual I-526 application, and during the I-924 “exemplar” procedure for EB-5 projects located in TEAs and requesting USCIS pre-approval. To prove that the EB-5 project lies within a high unemployment or rural TEA, the EB-5 project sponsor or visa applicant must submit adequate third-party evidence supporting this claim. This evidence can take several forms.
Forms of evidence accepted by USCIS for TEA designation
1. To justify high unemployment TEA designation, up-to-date unemployment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program
2. To further substantiate high unemployment TEA designation applications,other data and statistics focused on employment and demographics in the EB-5 project area
Note: Investors must complete the TEA designation process only for projects and applications involving investments of $500,000. Those pursuing $1 million EB-5 investment projects do not need to complete this process.
Key points regarding TEA designation
EB-5 project sponsors and investors can secure TEA designation in two ways:
1. Through a state agency Applicants can obtain and submit a TEA designation letter from a government body or authorized state agency that confirms that the proposed EB-5 project lies in an officially designated high unemployment TEA. For most applicants and projects, this is the easiest option.
2. Through USCIS: Applicants can request direct TEA designation from USCIS by submitting evidence showing that the proposed EB-5 project lies in an area with an average unemployment rate of 150% of the U.S. national average, as set out in points 1 to 3 above.