***Updated March 2, 2016***
At some point in the next few months, most states will be replacing CY14 TEA data with CY15.
First, why do we care when a state updates TEA data? In short, TEA-eligibility for a project can change over time and so there is no guarantee that a site that is currently in a TEA will remain a TEA in the future.
To file individual investor’s I-526s confidently, it is generally (and highly) recommended that the state TEA letter speak to the most current data that the state is utilizing at the time of the investment (or at the time the I-526 is filed). In other words, using outdated or “old” TEA letters leads to problems (and by problems we mean RFEs). Speaking to this point, in one of the 2014 stakeholder calls, USCIS specifically mentioned outdated TEA letters as one of the more common problems seen in I-526 applications. So, it’s important to have a TEA letter reflective of the State’s updated data.
So, when do states release new TEA data?
Almost all states base their TEA calculations on a fixed 12-month period that is updated annually (so just once a year). For this 12-month period, most states utilize the latest finalized calendar year (CY) average. Other states utilize the latest 12 months covering a July to June period (latest is currently July 14 to June 15).
Since the majority of all states (including the states that have the most EB-5 activity) utilize the calendar year basis, we’ll focus on those. As of this date of this blog (March 2016), these states are utilizing data based on CY14, but will be updating to CY15 within the next few months.
For TEA calculations, most states utilize a “census-share methodology”, which requires data from multiple sources to complete. One source utilized in the calculation is typically the county-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, there is a bit of a lag on when this data is finalized.
These “calendar year” states will replace the CY14 data with CY15 sometime between March and June (varies of course), as this BLS data for the prior year does not typically become finalized until March/April.
While for most states, a call or e-mail is needed to ascertain exactly (or roughly) when new data will begin to be utilized, other states’ websites will indicate exactly when updated data will be posted.
The following table provides some further detail on several individual states.
|State||TEA data is updated when?|
|California||May 1 (according to state website)|
|New York||Middle of April (according to state contacts)|
|Florida||Late March (according to state contacts)|
|Texas||Texas is tricky because local mayors and county judges have been given authority to certify TEAs. Many cities/counties are familiar with TEAs and have a process in place, but some of course are not familiar with EB-5/TEAs. As such, depending on your project location, the relevant designating authority(s) in Texas might not have a set process in place for updating their TEA data. However, all of the Texas authorities we have worked with have utilized a CY basis, so you would expect them to update their data between April and June. We have worked with many Texas cities/counties, so let us know if you have any questions about a project location in Texas.|
|New Jersey||Early April (according to state contacts)|
|Illinois||March 17 (according to state website – please note that Illinois suspends certifications between February 1 and March 17)|
|Minnesota||April 29th (according state contacts)|
For information on state agencies that are designated to certify TEAs, please see http://impactdatas.wpengine.com/eb-5/state-agencies-teas/
As with all TEA analysis, one must take into account not only the timing/methodology differences amongst states, but also the planned timing of the immigrant investment or I-526 filings. As TEA-eligibility for a project site can change over time, understanding when states update their data is just one important aspect of the overall TEA picture. As always, it is important to have potential EB-5 project sites analyzed carefully, often taking multiple data points and scenarios into consideration.
While it is uncertain if any new legislation related to TEAs will be passed this year (seems unlikely), we will also be keeping an eye on potential TEA-related legislative changes.
Impact DataSource is an industry leader in EB-5 economic analysis (jobs studies) and TEA analysis.
Please contact Impact DataSource for any economic study or TEA-related questions.