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EB5, COVID-19 and changes to TEA Map

Today we talk about the EB5 VISA process and how the Coronavirus may affect Green Card approval in the years to come, through changes to the TEA Map.

The TEA Map stands for Targeted Employment Areas.

The TEA Map is used as an evaluation tool to understand which areas in the US have more than 150% of the national unemployment average. Areas that meet this criteria are accepted by USCIS as eligible for infrastructure and employment programs such as the EB5 VISA Program. The Foreign Investor, looking to gain a Permanent Green Card, needs to invest in an EB5 Project that will maintain this 150% or more unemployment average from the time he/she initially, throughout the i-526 petition process and up until the VISA is allocated. This is a multi-year process, so knowing about the TEA Map as well as current employment trends is very important towards ensuring the highest rates of Green Card approval. As it stands, BAI Capital has a 100% rate of Green Card allocation via the EB5 Visa Program.

Fluctuations in unemployment affect the TEA Map content. Loss of jobs due to factories closing, industries failing, recessions, or in the case of early 2020, a global pandemic – the COVID-19- are all factors that affect the make-up of the TEA Map.

Data for the maps are collected in 2 main ways. Recent procedural changes from UCSIS have altered the evaluation process for 2020. USCIS now directly reviews and determines the designation of high-unemployment TEAs; no longer deferring to TEA designations made by state and local governments.

Currently, as of November 21, 2019, there are 2 methods to collect data regarding unemployment rates for an area. This data showing an unemployment average more than 150% the nation’s average is an essential prerequisite for EB5 Project approval and i-526 petitions.

The 2 NEW USCIS evaluation methods are:
1. ACS only 5 Year Estimates
2. Census-share: Combined ACS 5 Year Average/ BLS Annual Averages

ACS 5 Year Estimates: 5-year estimates of labor statistics at the census tract level. The 5 year cycle runs 2014-2018, 2019-2023, etc.
BLS Annual Averages: Annual average labor statistics data at the county level.

As can be noticed under the new rules, the ACS census tract level data takes precedence as it is used in BOTH evaluation methods.

The economic effects of COVID-19 and the subsequent recession won’t be fully known for months or years. On top of that, AC5 and BLS data from April 2020 won’t enter the records at USCIS until December 2021 and April 2021, respectively, as their recording methods differ and held back. Details in full can be found here.

In other words, although COVID-19 is negatively affecting people’s lives now, as job loss, illness and death, the records of the job losses won’t show up in the USCIS system until 2021 at the earliest.

Man working

How can the EB5 Foreign Investor/ Green Card Applicant navigate these changes?

Knowledge is power. The more you know about the EB5 process the better the chances you will get your Green Card, as well as a return on your investment.
Certain areas and regions in the US will be more affected economically by COVID-19 than others, although the total impact is impossible to determine or evaluate at the current moment.
Investing in an EB5 Project that is anticipated to hold an unemployment average at least 150% the nation’s average throughout and past the pandemic is recommended.
Working with an EB5 Expert, familiar with all components of the investment and VISA petition process is essential.

BAI Capital has a proven track record, with over 10 years experience in EB5 Program and Equity Capital Management. 100% of the EB5 VISA Applicants investing with BAI have received their Green Card throughout this period.

EB5 Projects

The links in this article are presented to help you gain the information you need to make your best investment and immigration decisions. Feel free to contact a representative at BAI Capital for more information.