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[HOT] Targeted Employment Area Issues & Resources
Link to state agencies issuing TEA certifications:
Perhaps this is the issue that is currently most vexing to USCIS and EB-5 community for various reasons. Once again, USCIS has sent out mixed signals to the EB-5 community, and the confusion reigns over what USCIS wants and is willing to accept on TEA designation letter.
USCIS has on several occasions stated that it will follow its own regulations and allow states to determine TEAs and defer to such determinations, but then it has sent out such mixed signals that everyone is confused, probably including CSC examiners themselves. It's just a very frustrating situation which again shows the enforcement mentality of USCIS, no matter what it says. USCIS really needs to appoint a business-minded person to oversee the EB-5 Unit.
How to determine TEA areas
USCIS stated that the investor’s Form I-526 petition must show that the area in which the capital investment has been made qualifies as a “rural” area or an area of “high unemployment as of the date of filing of the Form I-526 petition or the date of the capital investment, whichever occurs first. For additional information regarding the statistics to use in making TEA determinations, stakeholders may contact the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) division within the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as the BLS has published technical bulletins on this topic.
Moreover, two avenues by which someone can establish an area as a TEA are by providing the statistical documentation directly to USCIS or by obtaining a TEA determination from the state in the area in which the investment is going to be made. In every case, the TEA determination is made as part of an I-526 petition adjudication.
Relevant regulations state:
(ii) In the case of a high unemployment area:
(A) Evidence that the metropolitan statistical area, the specific county within a metropolitan statistical area, or the county in which a city or town with a population of 20,000 or more is located, in which the new commercial enterprise is principally doing business has experienced an average unemployment rate of 150 percent of the national average rate; or
B) A letter from an authorized body of the government of the state in which the new commercial enterprise is located which certifies that the geographic or political subdivision of the metropolitan statistical area or of the city or town with a population of 20,000 or more in which the enterprise is principally doing business has been designated a high unemployment area. The letter must meet the requirements of 8 CFR 204.6(i).
8 CFR § 204.6 Petitions for employment creation aliens.
(i) State designation of a high unemployment area. The state government of any state of the United States may designate a particular geographic or political subdivision located within a metropolitan statistical area or within a city or town having a population of 20,000 or more within such state as an area of high unemployment (at least 150 percent of the national average rate). Evidence of such designation, including a description of the boundaries of the geographic or political subdivision and the method or methods by which the unemployment statistics were obtained, may be provided to a prospective alien entrepreneur for submission with Form I–526. Before any such designation is made, an official of the state must notify the Associate Commissioner for Examinations of the agency, board, or other appropriate governmental body of the state which shall be delegated the authority to certify that the geographic or political subdivision is a high unemployment area.
TEA qualification is important because an EB-5 investor is allowed to invest $500,000 USD rather than the normal amount of $1 MM. But the EB-5 investor better make it sure that the area indeed qualifies as a TEA and obtains and presents clear evidence to support such TEA qualification. It is strongly recommended that you review the following link for an overview of TEA concept: http://eb-5center.com/node/108
How to determine "rural" area?
You can click on the state that you are searching for - then enter the specific county - a one page county summary comes up. At the bottom, it indicates if that county is part of metropolitan statistical area (MSA).
List of state agencies in charge of making TEA determinations and issuing TEA certification letters
Below are, in alphabetical order, state agencies which have been designated by states to determine TEA areas within the states for purposes of EB-5 Program. An effort will be made to present as comprehensive list of TEA designation agencies as they become ascertained.
Alabama: Alabama Dept of Labor -- Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
California: CA EDD -- http://business.ca.gov/MoreResources/EB5Program/TargetedEmploymentArea.aspx
Connecticut: DECD -- www.ct.gov/ecd/cwp/view.asp?a=1099&q=249762
Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry -- www.dli.state.pa.us
Texas: Texas Work Force Commission