A Targeted Employment Area (TEA) is a region of the United States for which the threshold for investment for an investor to be eligible for the EB-5 visa is $500,000 (as opposed to the usual $1,000,000 threshold for the US as a whole). There are two kinds of TEAs: high unemployment areas (defined as areas having unemployment more than 150% the national average calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and rural areas (defined as areas outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area).
If the location of the proposed new business is not already determined to be a TEA, the investor has the option to gather the relevant publicly available state or federal statistics on their own and submit it with their petition for USCIS to have a new TEA determination made.
There is no centralized list of targeted employment areas, but stage agencies in various states maintain their own lists or criteria for identifying TEAs, as well as information on local unemployment rates that can be cited in applications. Various US states facilitate the process by allowing people to apply for certification for particular areas being designated as TEAs. USCIS defers to state determinations but periodically reviews the criteria used by states to confirm that they comply with its guidelines.
In addition, there are privately collected information sources on unemployment by census tract that can help investors identify TEAs. Immigration restriction website VDARE has been critical of expansive definitions of TEAs and the efforts made by state and municipal bodies to have their areas designated as TEAs.