The Washington State Employment Security Department is currently the designated authority for certifying targeted employment areas (TEAs) within the state that qualify as high unemployment areas (HUAs) under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program.

What is the purpose of EB-5 targeted employment areas?

The targeted employment area designation encourages foreign investments and economic growth by reducing the requirements for obtaining an EB-5 immigrant investor visa. The minimum qualifying investment for investors within a TEA area is $500,000. In general, the minimum qualifying investment is $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. Note, this program was extended by the U.S. Congress into 2019. 

What is our role?

We review application requests to certify areas of high unemployment under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa program, administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An area of high unemployment (HUA) is defined as an area that is part of a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) that has experienced at least 150 percent higher annual average unemployment than the national annual average rate. We may then send a letter certifying that the geographic area requested has been designated a targeted employment area with a high unemployment rate. These procedures were changed this year by USCIS, as noted below.

Policy Alert for November 21, 2019

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization Final Rule, published on July 24, 2019, and effective November 21, 2019. This Policy Alert is here.

How do I apply for a TEA designation prior to November 21st?
  • Download the request instructions, 2019 request form and 2019 TEA data files shown at the bottom of this page.
  • Determine if your project is in a pre-designated TEA location by following the instructions.
  • For areas not pre-designated, follow the request instructions and submit for review.
  • Applications must be received by November 18, 2019 to be considered prior to the Policy changes noted above.

Each request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for conformity with the intent of the USCIS policies and your area characteristics. Please complete all fields on the request form and allow one week for a response.

How often is the data updated?

Annually. The 2019 data tables were updated in April 2019. For those seeking a renewal of a current designation letter, please fill out a 2019 request form.

Where can I learn more about the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program?

See the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office for more information about becoming an EB-5 immigrant investor. A description of all employment-based immigrant visas can be found here.

Where can I learn more about targeted employment areas?

For more information on TEA certification, call the Employment Security Department TEA representative at 360-507-9616 or email Robert Haglund

Federal legislation

The U.S. Congress will also be reviewing the EB-5 program and may further alter the procedures and requirements described on this website.

2019 TEA request materials
Additional data files are available for download in the report library.
Reference materials