Targeted Employment Area (TEA) Changes and the Impacts to the EB-5 Marketplace
Alex Ahlstrom
March 28, 2020

On November 21st, 2019, Regulatory changes were implemented in the EB-5 investor visa program that resulted in two significant changes. One significant change was an increase in the minimum investment amount from $500,000 to $900,000 for TEA projects, and from $1,000,000 to $1,800,000 for non-TEA projects. The other significant change was the new definition of what constitutes a TEA.   After Regulations went into effect the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) took over control of what determines the designation of TEAs, no longer deferring TEA designations to state or local governments. This change applies to all projects except rural projects – meaning all non-rural projects (even if they had Exemplar Approvals prior to Regulations), must now be re-adjudicated by USCIS.

Alex Ahlstrom, EB5 United’s Director of Investor Relations, Asia discussing about TEA changes

To receive TEA designation in non-rural areas an EB-5 project must be located in an area that has an unemployment rate of at least 150% of the U.S. national average. Prior to Regulations EB-5 projects could group large numbers of census tracks to easily obtain TEA status by state and local governments. Post Regulations projects may only qualify utilizing the exact census tract or directly adjacent census tracts, which is expected to disqualify an estimated 80%+ of the high-unemployment TEAs, or 95%+ of all non-rural EB-5 projects. As of this writing no one knows how long it will take USCIS to re-adjudicate non-rural projects, and to our knowledge no projects have yet to be re-adjudicated.

In addition to Regulatory changes, COVID-19 poses another threat to high-unemployment non-rural TEAs. This is the result of the likely high volatility in unemployment rates, which adds additional risk for EB-5 investors as many census tracts will move in and out of TEAs at a rapid pace, leaving issuers and investors with additional uncertainty that projects are/will be designated as a TEA.

In Summary, Rural projects offer TEA certainty as these projects automatically qualify as TEAs under Regulations (rural projects are defined as areas outside of a Metropolitan Statistical Area with a population of less than 20,000 people)

At the same time the vast majority of non-rural TEAs have lost their TEA status until they are re-adjudicated by USCIS.  Further, with high volatility expected in unemployment due to COVID-19 there are additional risk factors when depending on a high-unemployment TEA status. As a result, investors around the world are turning to rural projects for TEA certainty. Please contact EB5 United for information on rural TEA project availability. 

The principals of EB5 United have worked with more than 1000+ immigrants through the EB-5 program, helping investors and their families obtain green cards and realize their American Dream. If you would like to file your EB-5 application, please contact:

Alex Ahlstrom
Director of Investor Relations, Asia
Email : [email protected]

Brennan Sim
Senior Vice President
+1.503.380.9106 (WhatsApp)
Email : [email protected]