The EB-5 visa program is a popular option for foreign investors seeking to obtain permanent residency in the United States. The program requires investors to make a significant investment in a U.S.-based commercial enterprise that creates at least ten jobs for U.S. workers. To incentivize investment in economically distressed areas, the program offers a lower minimum investment amount for projects located in targeted employment areas (TEAs). In this article, we will discuss the criteria for selecting TEAs in the EB-5 visa program, including the impact on investors.
A Targeted Employment Area (TEA) is an area that has high unemployment rates or is located in a rural area. Projects located in TEAs are eligible for a lower minimum investment amount than projects located in non-TEAs.
To qualify as a TEA, an area must meet certain criteria established by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These criteria are designed to ensure that TEAs are located in economically distressed areas and that the benefits of the EB-5 visa program are being directed to areas that need them the most.
One of the criteria for selecting TEAs is the unemployment rate in the area. To qualify as a TEA based on unemployment rate, the area must have an unemployment rate that is at least 150% of the national average.
The unemployment rate is calculated based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The USCIS updates the unemployment rate data annually and publishes a list of qualifying TEAs.
The other criteria for selecting TEAs is based on the location of the project in a rural area. To qualify as a TEA based on rural area criteria, the project must be located in an area that is outside of a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or outside of the outer boundary of any city or town with a population of 20,000 or more.
The USCIS uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine whether an area is located in a rural area. The USCIS updates the rural area data annually and publishes a list of qualifying TEAs.
The TEA designation can have a significant impact on investors in the EB-5 visa program. Projects located in TEAs are eligible for a lower minimum investment amount than projects located in non-TEAs.
The minimum investment amount for projects located in a TEA is $900,000, while the minimum investment amount for projects located in non-TEAs is $1.8 million. This lower minimum investment amount can make it easier for investors to meet the requirements of the EB-5 visa program and to obtain permanent residency in the United States.
To obtain a TEA designation for a project, the project sponsor must submit an application to the USCIS. The application must include data and analysis demonstrating that the project meets the TEA criteria.
The USCIS reviews the application and makes a determination about whether the project qualifies as a TEA. If the project is approved as a TEA, it will be listed on the USCIS’s list of qualifying TEAs.
The TEA designation process can be challenging for project sponsors, particularly in areas where the unemployment rate is borderline for qualifying as a TEA. The USCIS may require additional documentation or analysis to demonstrate that the area meets the TEA criteria.
In addition, the TEA designation process may be subject to challenges from other parties, such as local governments or community organizations. These challenges may be based on concerns about the impact of the project on the local community or on the accuracy of the data used to determine the TEA designation.