Economic Development

Programs - EB5

In 1990 Congress created a program known as “EB-5”: the Immigrant Investor Program. Immigrants invest large sums of money in America and then the U.S. grants them an “EB-5” visa. This visa program is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Through this program, the United States encourages international entrepreneurs to invest in America, developing American jobs and companies through the program. However, the program limits the number of visas they offer and the U.S. maintains conditions on whom may apply

The state has given Our Economic Development Division the authority to designate project sites as a Target Employment Area (TEA), a requirement within the application for smaller investment opportunities. 

A simplified summary of the program:

  • The investor must create or preserve at least 10 full time jobs within 2 years
  • The investor must invest in a new commercial enterprise or
  • The investor must invest at least 1 million U.S. Dollars  
  • The investor must devote 500 thousand Dollars in a high unemployment or rural zone

For more information please visit the USCIS Federal Website and contact the Houston’s economic development division.

For more information please contact us.


Effective January 2014, in order to qualify for a TEA certification, the following requirements need to be met: The Census tract(s) and/or block group(s) used toward a contiguous or shared method designation cannot consist of more than 12 tracts within a 5-mile radius of the proposed site. For a map listing individual EB5 Census Tracts, EB5 Target Employment Areas-Houston Metro.

Submission Requirements:

  1. DOWNLOAD the EB-5 (TEA) Certification Request Form (.pdf, updated October 2021) – Complete the form in its entirely. If any data is missing, the form will be sent back for completion; please keep in mind this will add more time to your initial request.
  2. PROPOSED FULL PHYSICAL ADDRESS/LEGAL DISCRIPTION: A specific address for the proposed investment will be needed to determine whether or not, the address is situated in a qualifying area. However, if a specific address is not yet available, a general description of the location or close area will suffice to tie the request to a qualifying area within a MSA, county, CDP, or city. You can locate this information by going to the HCAD website and downloading the real property record account information to submit with you form.
  3. DATA ANALYSIS VERIFICATION: Verify that the designated census tracts combined qualifies as a High Unemployment Area (has an unemployment rate equal to or exceeding 150 percent of the national unemployment average) using the current statistical analysis. The City of Houston requires that you use the most up to date labor data. To qualify as a TEA, the area must have a 2020 unemployment rate ≥ 12.15%. Unemployment rates are calculated using the census-share method as permitted by the USCIS, in conjunction with Census Bureau 2015-2019 American Community Survey tract employment ratios and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2018 county employment.
  4. SUBMISSION: Gather all information (Items 1-3) and submit via email to: SUBMIT APPLICATION
  5. PROCESSING TIME: Please be advised that the turnaround time for most requests is a minimum of 15 business days from the day we receive your request in our office.