EB-5 INVESTOR VISA PROGRAM, TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREAS (TEA) CERTIFICATION
The Arizona Commerce Authority’s Office of Economic Opportunity certifies high unemployment areas that meet the qualifications for the Immigration Investor Program (EB-5) administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). EB-5 was created by Congress to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.
All EB-5 investors must invest the required capital in a commercial enterprise, which creates or preserves a set number of full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within a defined period following the investment.
The immigrant’s capital investment can be in the form of cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the investor. The minimum qualifying investment in the United States depends on the date of application and the geographic location of the commercial enterprise. Areas of high unemployment and rural areas designated as Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) require lower minimum qualifying investments.
2022 - TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF EB-5 DESIGNATIONS
The Arizona Commerce Authority will suspend requests for EB-5 designations from April 8 to May 1, 2022. This pause will allow the processing system to be updated with the 2020 census tracts and 2021 unemployment data. Requests submitted on or after May 2 will be processed using that updated information. If you have questions, please contact Heather Escobedo at HeatherE@AZCommerce.com.
From November 2019 until June 2021, USCIS processed EB-5 TEA Letters. Because of recent court proceedings, the ACA is certifying high unemployment areas or Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) that qualify under the standards set by USCIS.
TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREA
The Arizona Commerce Authority’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) certifies high unemployment areas or Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) that qualify under the standards set by USCIS. A TEA designated on the basis of high unemployment is a geographic area that, at the time of application and investment, is experiencing an unemployment rate of at least 150 percent of the national average rate. A Targeted Employment Area qualified based on the classification as a rural area is an area outside of a metropolitan statistical area (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or outside of the boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more, according to the most recent decennial census. TEA figures are updated annually, with new information becoming available in early May of each year.
OEO applies a review method to determine whether an area meets the criteria for targeted employment area. All proposals must be consistent with tract estimates and the methods detailed below. The required unemployment rate for a TEA is 150% of the national annual average, which was 8.1% in 2020. The qualifying rate for 2020 is thus 12.2%, when rounded to the nearest 10th of a percent.
Unemployment rates for individual census tracts are calculated based on a ratio share method using U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS) estimates and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates. This method is based on standard BLS-Census share methodology.
OEO has calculated the labor statistics for all Census tracts in 2020 based on 2015-2019 ACS estimates and 2020 BLS estimates.
TEST AND SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSED AREA
The interactive tool below will allow you test if your proposed area meets the requirements for a TEA. If your proposed area meets requirements, you will be able to submit for designation via DocuSign.
- Select the county of your proposed tracts.
- Enter the tracts located in the selected county as a four-digit number or a four-digit number followed by a period and the two-digit sub-tract number (e.g. 1234 or 1234.01).
Use a comma to separate multiple tracts in the same county.
- Repeat these steps for proposed tracts in other counties.
NEXT STEPS: After testing and receiving the qualified area via DocuSign the ACA will create an approved TEA Letter and send to requester via e-mail. The ACA does not send letters directly to the USCIS.
PROCESSING TIME: Please allow 15 business days turnaround time from the date the request is received.
For additional questions or comments contact Heather Escobedo, Program Manager at HeatherE@AZcommerce.com.