On March 8, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The TPS program provides temporary protections in the U.S. to eligible nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security designates, based on conditions that prevent a safe return to that country. The current conditions in Venezuela include multiple factors converging to create a severe humanitarian emergency—a collapsed economy, prolonged political crises, human rights abuses, food insecurity, crime, and lack of basic services, all of which were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the TPS designation, Venezuelan nationals (and those without a nationality but who last resided in Venezuela) who have been present in the U.S. since March 8, 2021 may apply for TPS during a set registration period, which runs from March 9, 2021 to September 5, 2021. Applicants must demonstrate that they meet the eligibility criteria of 8 USC §1254a(c)(1)-(2).
During the TPS designation period, TPS beneficiaries are eligible to remain in the U.S., may not be removed, and are authorized to obtain work and travel authorization so long as they continue to meet the requirements of TPS. To apply for TPS, individuals submit a Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, to USCIS and pay the associated filing fees. Employment and travel authorization require separate applications—Forms I-765 and I-131—along with respective filing fees.
Venezuela’s initial TPS designation is for a period of 18 months, through September 9, 2022. At least 60 days before the expiration of this period, the Secretary of Homeland Security must review the conditions in Venezuela and determine whether to extend or terminate the TPS designation. When country conditions improve and the designation is terminated, individuals are returned to the same immigration status or condition held prior to the grant of TPS, unless that status has since expired.
Together with the TPS designation, the Secretary has also published procedures for granting Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to Venezuelan nationals (and those without a nationality but who last resided in Venezuela). DED is similar to TPS and confers similar benefits, including protection from deportation and eligibility for employment and travel authorization. Individuals who believe they qualify for TPS or DED are encouraged to consult with a T&S legal professional to evaluate their eligibility.