What is a rural area or an area of high unemployment?

In the Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section § 204.6 (i), a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) is defined as a rural area or an area experiencing high unemployment rates. TEA is designed using Census tract data. Eligible TEAs include Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA), Census Designated Places (CDP), counties, and cities. By doing so, Congress encourages immigrant investors to get money over areas that may be suffering from economic crisis. Targeted employment area designation is requested within the I-526 petition for an EB-5 $500,000 investment.

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What is a Rural Area?

As designated by the Office of Management and Budget, a Rural Area is any area outside a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) that is outside the boundary of any city or town. Designated Rural areas must have a population of 20,000 or more, determined on the most recent decennial census of the United States.

There are specific criteria to qualify as a TEA Rural area, during an EB-5 project location petition.

What is a High Unemployment Area?

Any state government of the U.S. may label a particular geographic or political subdivision located within a metropolitan statistical area as an area of high unemployment, using the census-share methodology, as permitted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). This area may be designated by a state authority or independent economists for counties or cities, which have experienced unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average unemployment rate. For example, based on the 2013 annual average U.S. unemployment rate of 7.4 percent, the minimum unemployment rate needed to qualify as a TEA was 11.1 percent.

In many states, a TEA may also be designated by combining multiple contiguous census tracts where the unemployment rate of the resulting region exceeding the high unemployment threshold.

An official of the state must inform the Associate Commissioner for Examinations of the agency, or any appropriate governmental body of the state which has to approve the high unemployment area.

High unemployment areas should also have a large labor force. High unemployment but low numbers in the labor force will not be profitable, as these calculations are weighted on averages.​

How can you get a TEA designation?      

The TEA denomination is a fundamental step of the I-526 petition. An Eb5 petition can receive TEA designation if the principal location of the project is located in a high unemployment area at the time the EB5 investment is made.

To get a TEA designation, you have to obtain a letter from State government body to provide rural area or high unemployment area evidence, and send it to the USCIS. Then, you have to keep in touch with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) office to obtain published technical bulletins. You have to provide any statistical documentation.

What are the advantages of investing in a Regional Center located in a TEA?

Here are the advantages of investing in a TEA:

– Less amount of capital necessary to make a qualifying investment ($500,000 rather than the $1,000,000);
– No daily management is required;
– The investor does not have to work or can be retired, he can live and work with his family anywhere in the U.S.;
– No necessity of creating 10 direct full-time positions. The jobs created from the investment can be direct or indirect;
– Finally, the enterprise will regularly and continuously provide goods and services that support job creation in areas suffering from economic crisis.

An experienced immigration lawyer can help you choose the most attractive Regional Center option and handle your EB5 Green Card application.


How can an Immigration Lawyer help me choose a USCIS Regional center?

In all EB-5 petitions, the most important role of an immigration lawyer is to supervise the investment process and provide you comprehensive step-by-step legal advice.

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In addition to that, investors should work not only with a lawyer that has experience with the eb5 investor visa program, but are also knowledgeable with corporate and business litigation.

A good immigration attorney can help you choose the USCIS Regional Center program and locations that best matches your skills and personal preferences.

Further, an immigration lawyer would be able to assess the immigration risks of the investment, ensuring conformity of business plans, reviewing documentation, and preparing the petition.

This is done by a careful review of the Regional Center’s business and operational plans, including job creation descriptions, and all the aspects of the proposed investment.

Although Regional Centers are designed for long-lasting and successful investments, they are not synonyms of guaranteed profit. There are a lot of questions to answer when dealing with a Regional Center and a lawyer can answer them.

 What should your lawyer look for when choosing a Regional Center?

Regional centers are NOT created equal. Choosing the right USCIS Regional Center is a step of critical importance

A good immigration attorney can provide you with a current list of all the U.S. Regional Centers and help you select the right one for you.

Some Regional Centers have long and well-settled case-file while others are novel and less experienced. Recently approved Regional Centers may have very little track record of successful petitions.

Moreover, some Regional Centers are not certified, others have become inactive and some others have not been recertified.

– Regional Centers revised by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and/or affiliated with any governmental entity have an higher level of security;
– The best Regional Centers have an excellent track-record of petition approvals (Form I-526) and no or very few denials;
– Also, the best Regional Centers have a high approval rate of the Form I-829 (Petition by an Entrepreneur to Remove Condition);
– Some Regional centers allow you to withdraw your investment after being approved for renewal of your Conditional Green card;
– Regional center shouldreport the status of the investment to the investors including new investment opportunities (commercial building, hotels, condominium buildings, films and so on).

Attorneys with international corporate experience can help you accomplish your immigration goal. Even if the EB5 Green card is highly attractive, it requires significant resources. If you don’t want o risk losing your investment money, you should speak to an experienced corporate lawyer to fully evaluate the project of the Regional Center you want to invest in.

What is a Regional center in the EB-5 Pilot Program?  

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) defines a Regional Center as “any economic entity, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment”.

In other terms, it’s an organization designated by the USCIS as eligible to receive capital from immigrant investors, taking advantage of direct and indirect job creation.

Congress created the “Immigrant Investor Pilot Program” or “Pilot Program” in 1992, to encourage immigration through the EB5 visa program. The Pilot Program provides for investments, affiliated with Regional Centers, by indirect employment creation.

Foreign investment into the Pilot Program must be made prior to the submission of the EB5 application. This is a necessary requirement in order to obtain the approval of the form I-526.

5 reasons to choose the EB-5 Pilot Program.

Outstanding benefits of the Pilot Program, if compared with the individual EB-5, include:

– Less investment capital is needed (only $500,000 versus $1,000,000);
– No daily management is required;
– The investor do not have to work or can work in any other business;
– The investor can live and work, with his/her family, anywhere in the U.S.;
– There is no necessity of creating 10 direct full-time positions; the jobs created from the investment can be direct or indirect.

The right Regional Center avoids you dealing with the many complicated issues involved in an individual EB5 investor visa.

Tracking the investor’s funds to the Regional Center and proving the lawful source of them, are the most important tasks.

Questions like whether “the business employs 10 U.S. workers” orwhether “the business qualify as a new commercial enterprise“, will not affect you. Furthermore, most Regional centers will refund your investment if your I-526 is denied.

Regional Centers are designated by the USCIS, which has created approximately 480 of them, operating in different States. Becoming a Regional center is an attractive way for a business Project. USCIS will evaluate and approve a business plan and a detailed economic analysis before placing a Regional Center in the EB-5 Pilot Program.

Any organization, seeking the “Regional Center” designation from the USCIS, must always show some conditions like:

– Promoting economic growth in region within the United States;
– Creating jobs, both directly and indirectly, through capital investments;
– Increasing export sales or improving regional productivity;
– Improving the positive impact on the regional or national economy;
– Showing the amount of capital and the promotional efforts invested for the business project.

Most Regional Centers are in Targeted Employment Area (TEA) that is either in a rural or high unemployment area of the United States. High unemployment areas usually have unemployment rate of at least 1.5 times higher than the national average.

EB5 individual visa requirements are more restrictive, so the number of EB5 Pilot program petitions increased with years. It now exceeds the 90% of the total number of EB-5 petitions, reaching more than 3,000 Green cards each year.