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 2017 TEA certifications use 2016 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 2016, the national average unemployment rate was 4.9%. Therefore, to qualify as a TEA, a non-rural area must have an unemployment rate of 7.35%.

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Targeted Employment Area Request Instructions

We review application requests to certify TEAs under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program, administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and letters will be issued for areas that meet the TEA requirements.

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.
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.
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.
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 2016 LAUS data and the 2011-2015 ACS 5-year estimates for TEA certifications in 2017.
For 2017, 145 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.
Please review the steps below to determine if your proposed project is in a targeted employment area and follow the instructions for requesting a certification letter. We normally respond within 5-10 business days of receiving certification requests.


Use the address search tool on the U.S. Census Bureau's American FactFinder website to find the census tract number for your proposed project location address.

The 2010 county census tract maps can also be used to locate census tract numbers.
For 2017, 145 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.

If your project location is not in a census tract that qualifies as a TEA, you will need to create a combination of two or more contiguous census tracts to form an area that meets the unemployment rate threshold. (See step 3).
Use our data set to create a contiguous area that meets the unemployment rate threshold.

Then, calculate the unemployment rate for the contiguous area. The unemployment rate is equal to the sum of the unemployment divided by the sum of the labor force (employed + unemployed) for all selected census tracts, multiplied by 100.
Fill out form DETI-17791-E to request a certification letter. You may also include a map of the areas that you've included in your TEA.
Email your request for a TEA certification letter to Heather Thompson. Incomplete forms or requests that do not use our form or current data set will not be considered. Please allow two weeks for our review of your request.

If we determine that the location information you provided to us is within a high unemployment area, we will email you a signed certification letter. The USCIS can accept or reject any state-issued high unemployment certification.
For questions about the TEA certification process, our form or data set, please email Heather Thompson or call 608-267-5053. To learn more about becoming an EB-5 immigrant investor, visit the USCIS EB-5 resource page.

The information on this site is updated regularly. The same search run at another time may produce different results.

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