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Immigration Act of 1990/EB-5 Visa Program/Targeted Employment Area

The Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT 90) recognizes that the world's labor market is international. This act was necessary "to help American businesses hire highly skilled, specially trained personnel to fill increasingly sophisticated jobs for which domestic personnel cannot be found." (Federal Register Vol. 56 No. 230, Friday, Nov. 29, 1991)

One provision in IMMACT 90 created the "EB-5" immigrant investor program, which provides pathways to permanent residence visas in the United States for international investors making qualifying capital investments of at least $1,000,000. This threshold is lowered to $500,000 if the investment is made within a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) in the U.S. and in a new commercial enterprise that meets job creation requirements. The Regional Center Pilot Program allows international investors to meet job creation requirements through direct and indirect job creation.

A Targeted Employment Area is an area which, at the time of investment, is in a rural area or an area with an unemployment rate at least 150 percent of the average national unemployment rate.

A "rural area" is defined as "any area other than an area within a metropolitan statistical area or within the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more."

Based on the 2016 annual average U.S. unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, the minimum unemployment rate needed to qualify as a TEA is 7.4 percent.  Currently, no published area qualifies in its entirety as a TEA.  However, parts of other areas for which data are not published may possibly qualify. All TEA designations are examined on an individual basis.

Empire State Development (NYS Department of Economic Development) is the lead/contact agency for requests or inquiries concerning visas in "targeted employment areas." Please refer inquiries to:

Ed Kowalewski
Director of Industry Development-International
Strategic Business Development
Empire State Development
Phone: 716-846-8237
Skype: esdkowalewski

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