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What is the process to qualify as a TEA project?

I have worked in the forestry sector abroad. I am not American, but have already established a company in the United States. I would like to start a project targeting arid lands in the west to recover via reforestation. I might apply for a L type visa if necessary. What is the process to qualify as a TEA regional center project? Could I myself later apply for an EB-5 visa through this project?

Answers

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    A Olusanjo Omoniyi

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    With your business already in the United States, the L visa will allow you to move to the United States to manage the business. As to the idea of the reforestation industry, take time to investigate what is necessary as the industry is regulated by a maze of land-use laws that are local, state and federal in nature. If your business is properly set up, you can certainly be able to turn it into an EB-5 direct investment resulting in an EB-5 visa. Advisably, consult an immigration/business attorney to organize both the business and immigration aspects of your ideas.

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You may consider a direct EB-5 route or affiliate with a regional center. The lower investment of $500,000 will qualify if in a designated TEA (high unemployment area as determined by state officials) or rural area under statute. The L-1A route, assuming you qualify, may be a faster option to come to the United States on a nonimmigrant visa.

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    Anthony Korda

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Whether or not a project qualifies as a TEA (Targeted Employment Area) project depends on the location. If the location is rural or has an unemployment level that is 1.5 times the national average, it will qualify. There are nuances however, and the agency that will determine or confirm TEA status will depend on the state in which the project is located.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can affiliate your project with an existing regional center or pursue this as a "direct project" without regional center affiliation. Being in a TEA is a separate matter based on the actual location of the project being in an area of high unemployment (or a rural area). An EB-5 attorney can help you establish the proper legal and financial infrastructures to support an approvable I-526 petition.

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    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    With your own project, normally you would not need to set up a regional center unless you needed to raise a great deal of capital and market same to third parties abroad. You could make a direct EB-5 investment in your own project, which could also be the basis of an L-1 intracompany transferee visa initially since that would be much faster. To establish a TEA, you would have to get a ruling from your governor or the governor's designated third party, such as a mayor of the county official, that your project is located in a Targeted Economic Area - either a rural area or one where the unemployment rate is 150 percent of the nation's unemployment rate as all of those terms are defined.

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    John J Downey

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The particular state where the property is located determines which areas are considered Targeted Employment Areas. However, if the property you describe is considered a rural area under the statute, you could have USCIS confirm this. The reduced investment amount of $500,000 applies to both TEA and "rural area."

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    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    If you have the requisite affiliate relationship you might be eligible for a company transfer visa. The government website at USCIS.gov has helpful information. Under current rules you might be able to apply for regional center certification. Caution - the main proposal to extend the program does seek to limit regional center principals to green card holders.

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