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Targeted Employment Areas

The State of Wisconsin, Department of Workforce Development, Labor Market Information (LMI) section is the designated authority for certifying Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) in Wisconsin.

A TEA certification encourages foreign investments and economic growth by reducing the requirements for obtaining an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa. The minimum qualifying investment for investors with an EB-5 visa is $500,000 instead of the general minimum qualifying investment of $1 million. The investor must demonstrate that his or her investment will benefit the economy and create a required number of full-time jobs for qualified people in the United States.

The 2018 TEA certifications use 2017 unemployment data that has not been seasonally adjusted. To qualify as a TEA an area needs to have an estimated unemployment rate that is 150 percent of the national unemployment rate. In 2017, the national average unemployment rate was 4.4%. Therefore, to qualify as a TEA, a non-rural area must have an unemployment rate of 6.6%.

What is the EB-5 Visa program?
The EB-5 Visa or Immigrant Investor Program is administered by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.
What is a Targeted Employment Area?
A Targeted Employment Area is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area experiencing unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national unemployment rate.
What is a rural area? What are the rural areas in Wisconsin?
A rural area is any area outside a metropolitan statistical area or outside the boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the decennial census. There are 46 rural counties in Wisconsin.

Per the USCIS, there is no provision that allows a state to designate a rural area. More information about rural designations can be found on pages 7 and 8 of the USCIS policy memo.

How are areas in Wisconsin certified as TEAs?

On April 29, 2011, Governor Scott Walker designated the Labor Market Information (LMI) section in the Department of Workforce Development as the authority to certify geographic or political subdivisions as high unemployment areas in Wisconsin. The LMI section certifies high unemployment areas in Wisconsin but the USCIS makes the final determination of qualification as a TEA.

Every spring the Labor Market Information section updates the unemployment data with the most recent annual Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) data and US Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year census-tract estimates. The Labor Market Information section will use the 2017 LAUS data and the 2012-2016 ACS 5-year estimates for TEA certifications in 2018.
What areas in Wisconsin qualify as TEAs?
For 2018, 118 individual census tracts qualify as TEAs based on the current LAUS and ACS estimates. Census tracts used for TEA purposes are based on Census 2010 boundaries and numbers.

Additional areas can qualify as TEAs by combining contiguous census tracts. There is no limit on the number of census tracts that can be included in a TEA, however, only as many tracts that are necessary to qualify the combined areas as a TEA should be used.
How do I request a TEA certification?
Please review the request instructions and submit the application form found on our TEA requests page.
Where can I find more information?
To learn more about becoming an EB-5 immigrant investor, visit the USCIS EB-5 resource page.

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