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 federal site and contact Houston’s economic development division

For more information please contact us.

City of Houston EB-5 (TEA) Certification Request Form

  • Download this form (.pdf)
  • Our Guidelines: 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 4 to 5 mile radius of the proposed site.
  • Designation Requests: (Petitioners should consider the following prior to submitting a request)
    • A specific address for the proposed investment will be needed to determine whether or not the new business 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.
    • 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.  At the current time, the most recent unemployment information at the census tract level is the American Community Survey (ACS) 2009-2014 – 5 Year estimate used in conjunction with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2014 county unemployment.