Green Card by Investment

Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs)

A Special EB-5 Investment Area with Lower Investment Requirements. High-unemployment and Rural TEAs qualify for $800,000 instead of $1,050,000.

An EB-5 TEA (Targeted Employment Area) is a designation created by the US Congress to encourage investment in areas of need, such as areas with high unemployment rates or rural areas. Under the EB-5 visa program, investors who make a minimum investment of $800,000 in a TEA, rather than the standard $1,050,000 investment are eligible for permanent residency in the United States.

The EB-5 program is intended to stimulate economic growth and job creation in the United States by attracting foreign investment.

EB-5 Visa Set-Asides for TEAs

An investment made in a TEA does qualify for visa set-asides. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 established an annual set-aside of 10% of all EB-5 visas for investments made in high-unemployment TEAs and an annual set-aside of 20% of all EB-5 visas for investments made in rural TEAs. These set-asides offer post-RIA investors a potentially immediately available visa upon I-526E approval, even if they are from a backlogged country.

Additionally, infrastructure projects also have a visa set-aside of 2% of the total EB-5 visas, and they are treated similarly to TEA projects in terms of the required investment amount.

High Unemployment TEAs

To qualify as a high-unemployment TEA, an area must have at least 150% of the national U.S. average unemployment rate. 

High-unemployment TEAs can now only include the census tract of the investment project and directly adjacent census tracts. This new definition, created by the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA), is stricter than the one allowed by the previous regulations.

Contrary to the prior regulations, when individual states held such authority, now only the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can make TEA designations. High-unemployment designation is valid for two years and can be renewed in two-year increments.

The RIA has established an annual set-aside of 10% of all EB-5 visas for investments made in high-unemployment TEAs. These set-asides offer post-RIA investors a potentially immediately available visa upon I-526E or I-526 approval, even if they are from a backlogged country.

Rural TEAs

A Rural TEA (Targeted Employment Area) in EB-5 is an area designated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that is outside of a metropolitan statistical area and beyond the outer boundary of a city or town with a population of 20,000 or more. The purpose of creating Rural TEAs is to encourage EB-5 investment in rural areas that have a high need for economic development and job creation. An EB-5 investment made in a Rural TEA qualifies for a lower investment threshold of $800,000, rather than the standard $1,050,000 investment required for non-TEA areas.

Rural EB-5 petitioners are eligible for priority processing, although the exact timeline for processing is not yet defined by USCIS. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 established an annual set-aside of 20% of all EB-5 visas for investments made in rural TEAs. This set-aside offers post-RIA investors a potentially immediately available visa upon I-526E approval, even if they are from a backlogged country. Additionally, rural EB-5 petitions may receive priority processing, which is expected to be around one year.

Infrastructure projects

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 delineates between “targeted employment areas” and “infrastructure” projects; however, infrastructure projects are treated similarly to TEA projects as they have the same investment amount of $800,000 and also have a visa set-aside (2% of the EB-5 total.).

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