EB-5 Investor RequirementsTargeted Employment Areas

How EB-5 Investors Can Determine a Project’s TEA Status


The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program offers a unique opportunity for foreign nationals to receive U.S. green cards for themselves and their immediate family members in exchange for a qualifying investment in an EB-5 project. To become eligible, applicants must invest a minimum of $1.8 million in a new commercial enterprise (NCE). However, if the NCE is located in a targeted employment area (TEA), the minimum investment amount is reduced to $900,000. For this reason, the majority of EB-5 investors seek out projects in TEAs so that they can invest the lower amount required.

Historically, EB-5 investors would acquire a TEA designation letter from the state labor department and use it to prove to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the project’s location met the requirements of a TEA. In November 2019, the new Modernization Rule took effect, changing the protocol. The new rule makes investors responsible for proving the TEA status of their project: EB-5 investors must submit documentation with their I-526 petition that demonstrates to USCIS how their project qualifies as a TEA project.

Those planning an EB-5 investment can still submit a letter to USCIS to demonstrate that their NCE is located in a TEA. However, the letter must come from a private expert rather than the state labor department. Investors should also include any other documentation that is necessary to justify the TEA designation.

EB5AN’s Interactive TEA Map

For those making an EB5 investment, gathering up the necessary data for TEA designation can be a daunting and stressful task. USCIS requires EB-5 investors to use official data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics when determining whether a project’s location meets the requirements of a TEA. Attempting to decipher all of the available data can be challenging for many investors ,and a mistake on their application could cost them an extra $900,000 if the TEA designation is not approved. Fortunately, EB5AN’s TEA map makes this process significantly easier for EB-5 investors.

EB5AN’s interactive TEA map is extremely user-friendly. Users simply have to enter the address of their NCE, and the map will display the TEA status of the area. Census tracts that qualify as TEAs are highlighted in orange, allowing investors to easily identify areas designated as TEAs.

Those involved with an EB-5 investment should know that even if an EB-5 project’s census tract does not qualify as a TEA, it might qualify when combined with adjacent census tracts. EB5AN’s TEA map automatically combines census tracts when applicable to create a custom TEA. This ensures that investors have the highest chance possible of selecting a location that can be designated as a TEA, allowing them to invest the lower minimum amount of $900,000. EB5AN’s TEA map also offers another useful feature by allows users to download a free TEA letter template that they can use to demonstrate the area’s TEA status to USCIS. This allows EB-5 investors to present a clear and concise argument to USCIS with the most up-to-date facts and figures, maximizing their chance of receiving TEA designation.