As EB-5 Investor Visa Programs use foreign investments to build economically-stable and sustainable developments within the United States, the program requires a lower investment for projects in areas that most need it in order to gain visas. For example, an individual investor is typically required to contribute at least $1 million toward a project in order to obtain visas for him or herself and family. But if the project is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the investment requirements lessen to $500,000.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a Targeted Employment Area is a rural area or non-rural area that is suffering from high unemployment. The unemployment level of an area must equal 150 percent of the national unemployment rate during a comparable 12-month period in order for a non-rural area to be considered a TEA. Rural areas are defined as those areas not located in a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), or within a city or town with a population over 20,000. The State of Florida currently maintains 33 Targeted Employment Areas, as defined by the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.
Regions considered rural by the USCIS, thus also named as Targeted Employment Areas, include the following:
Monroe County (excluding Key West)
Non-rural, high-unemployment zones – which are either whole MSAs, component counties of multicounty MSAs or cities with populations over 20,000 – whose unemployment was 150 percent higher than the 2011 national average of 8.9 percent include the following (listed zone, percent unemployment):
Palm Coast MSA (Flagler County), 14.1 percent
Hernando County, 13.4 percent
Hialeah City (in Miami-Dade County), 14.1 percent
Miami Gardens City (in Miami-Dade County), 14.8 percent
Fort Pierce City (in St. Lucie County), 15.8 percent
If seeking unemployment statistics for smaller areas, the Labor Market Statistics (LMS) Center can provide estimates. It is also important to note, that if seeking EB-5 Investment Visa approval, inquiring into the labor statistics as a last step ensures the data is the most recent.
For more information on the EB-5 Investor Visa Program, as well as information on current Florida EB-5 funded projects, visit Florida Regional Center.