Free EB-5 Evaluation Updated Free National EB-5 TEA Map Now Available with CY 2018 Employment Data

Updated Free National EB-5 TEA Map Now Available with CY 2018 Employment Data 

Following the release of Calendar Year 2018 (CY 2018) unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we have updated our targeted employment area (TEA) map to provide up-to-date unemployment data for census tracts across the United States.

Under the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program (the EB-5 Program), a foreign investor can become eligible to obtain U.S. permanent resident status by investing either $1 million or $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. To qualify for the lower investment amount of $500,000, an investor must invest capital funds in an area that qualifies as a TEA.

A TEA designation letter must accompany the investor’s I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur if the TEA designation is based on a high unemployment rate in the project area. To qualify, a geographic area (such as a county, metropolitan statistical area, city, or tract) must have an unemployment rate greater than 150% of the national average, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Our map identifies high unemployment areas that may qualify as TEAs.

View our free national TEA map—now updated with CY 2018 data—to see if your EB-5 project qualifies or remains qualified as a TEA. Areas of high unemployment (by census tract) are highlighted in orange on the map.

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Watch our webinar to review the newly updated TEA map and the TEA certification process.

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With a 2018 national unemployment rate of 3.9%, a high unemployment area is now a region with an unemployment rate of at least 5.85%.

A designated state agency in each U.S. state certifies whether a project is located in a TEA. In many states, multiple contiguous census tracts can be combined, and if the unemployment rate of the combined region exceeds the high unemployment threshold, the area will be designated as a TEA.

Rural areas also qualify as TEAs. To qualify as a rural TEA, the area must be both outside of a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and outside of a city or town with a population of 20,000 or more. Designating a rural area as a TEA does not require an official TEA designation letter, but applicants must submit third-party documentation with their I-526 petitions that demonstrates that the area qualifies as a rural TEA.

TEA certifications must use the most recent data available at the time of filing an I-526 petition. TEA datasets are generally updated annually by each state. Most states are either already using the new data or will be using it within the next few months.

TEA designations are reviewed by USCIS as part of each individual investor’s I-526 application. TEAs are also reviewed as part of the I-924 project exemplar process for EB-5 projects seeking pre-approval from USCIS. Using the most recent unemployment data to determine whether an EB-5 project is located in a TEA will avoid a USCIS Request for Evidence and other delays caused by additional inquiries from USCIS.

The EB-5 Program’s rules for TEAs have not changed with the release of the latest unemployment data, but TEA qualification for a specific project site can change from year to year, so it is important to research whether an EB-5 project site is still located in a TEA.

Watch our webinar to review the newly updated TEA map. We discuss

  • CY 2018 unemployment data,
  • how to navigate our free TEA map,
  • when an updated TEA letter is necessary,
  • how to combine multiple census tracts to determine if a project is located in a TEA, and
  • how to obtain a TEA designation letter from U.S. state agencies.