The EB-5 Program is very appealing to many prospective immigrants, especially those who do not qualify for any other visa. The $1,000,000 minimum investment, however, makes an EB-5 visa prohibitively expensive for most foreign nationals. Fortunately, there is an alternative that may make this program more affordable. By investing in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the minimum EB-5 investment amount can be lowered to $500,000. This is a huge savings, and it can open up the EB-5 Program to many more potential investors. But in order to take advantage of this reduced investment option, petitioners and project administrators need to understand what a TEA is and, more importantly, how a TEA designation is to be obtained.
A TEA is simply an area that is, at the time of the investment, either a rural area or an area that is experiencing an unemployment rate that is 150 percent of the national average. Petitioners typically request that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services designate an area as a TEA at the time they file their I-526 (EB-5) Petition. The documentation that should be included with the request includes: (1) evidence that the area is rural; (2) unemployment data for the relevant MSA or (3) a letter from the state government designating a geographic or political subdivision located outside a rural area but within its own boundaries as a high unemployment area.