Biden administration grants temporary protection for Venezuelans in the US

The Biden administration announced on Monday new protections for Venezuelan asylum seekers physically present in the US. The Temporary Protection Status (TPS) prevents the deportation of people back to their original nation but does not offer long term protection or citizenship.

The move does nothing to address the Venezuelan asylum seekers that were deported to Mexico by the Trump Administration. These migrants are stuck in limbo with Bill Frelick of Human Rights Watch saying, “ Venezuelans stuck in Mexico because of rights-denying Trump-era policies should not be punished on that account and deserve the same protection s those who managed to enter.”

The TPS will last for 18 months and seems likely to be renewed upon expiration. The status only extends to those who were already present in the US and will not apply to new asylum seekers.

Venezuela’s political turbulence, economic issues, and the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in approximately 20% of the nation’s citizens to flee. This migration of over 5.4 million people has created an influx of migrants with Latin America and the Caribbean accommodating the majority. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service over 300,000 Venezuelans will receive the TPS designation. 

The move comes as a step towards assisting millions of displaced Venezuelans. The Human Rights Watch first called for the US to grant TPS status to Venezuelans in 2019. This serves as an example of an international response pleased with the change but demands further action. The Trump Administration’s policy of expelling asylum seekers to Mexico or denying those fearing for their life due process has left nearly half a million people unaddressed by the TPS designation.

Furthermore, Colombia recently granted a similar status to its 1.7 million Venezuelan asylum seekers. Colombian President Iván Duque announced on February 8th that the migrants would have at least 10 years of protection. The long-term plan allows those living without documentation an opportunity to participate in society safely. President Duque has urged the citizens of Colombia to show compassion for the new migrants and has acknowledged the humanitarian crisis happening in Venezuela

The Americas Director for the Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco, says “Conditions in Venezuela remain unsafe, and no one should be compelled to return against their will.”

Read full statement by the Biden administration: New Designation Allows Eligible Venezuelans to Apply for TPS and Employment Authorization Documents

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas is designating Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, until September 2022. This new designation of TPS for Venezuela enables Venezuelan nationals (and individuals without nationality who last resided in Venezuela) currently residing in the United States to file initial applications for TPS, so long as they meet eligibility requirements.

This designation is due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent nationals from returning safely, including a complex humanitarian crisis marked by widespread hunger and malnutrition, a growing influence and presence of non-state armed groups, repression, and a crumbling infrastructure. TPS can be extended to a country with conditions that fall into one, or more, of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.

“The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “It is in times of extraordinary and temporary circumstances like these that the United States steps forward to support eligible Venezuelan nationals already present here, while their home country seeks to right itself out of the current crises.”

Only individuals who can demonstrate continuous residence in the United States as of March 8, 2021 are eligible for TPS under Venezuela’s designation. For their own health and safety, individuals should not believe smugglers or others claiming the border is now open. Due to the pandemic, travel and admission restrictions at the border remain in place.

Individuals desiring TPS must file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the 180-day registration period. They may also apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and for travel authorization. All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility. More details about the eligibility criteria to submit an initial TPS application and apply for an EAD can be found in the Federal Register Notice (FRN).

The FRN also provides information about Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Venezuelan nationals and how individuals may apply for DED-related EADs, based on the January 19, 2021, presidential memorandum establishing DED for Venezuelan nationals for 18 months, through July 20, 2022. Individuals who apply for and receive TPS and who are also covered by DED do not need to apply for Employment Authorization Documentations under both programs. USCIS encourages individuals who believe they are eligible for TPS to apply during the initial registration period announced in the FRN, even if they are also covered by DED, in case they cannot qualify for TPS late initial filing after DED has expired.

Secretario Mayorkas Designa a Venezuela al Estatus de Protección Temporal por 18 Meses

WASHINGTON—El secretario de Seguridad Nacional, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, ha designado a Venezuela al Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS) por 18 meses, hasta septiembre de 2022. Esta nueva designación de TPS para Venezuela permite que los nacionales venezolanos (y personas sin nacionalidad cuya última residencia habitual fue Venezuela) que residen actualmente en Estados Unidos presenten solicitudes iniciales para TPS, siempre que cumplan con los requisitos de elegibilidad.

La designación se debe a condiciones extraordinarias y temporales existentes en Venezuela que evitan que los nacionales regresen a su país de manera segura, entre estas, una crisis humanitaria compleja, marcada por el hambre y la desnutrición generalizadas, una creciente influencia y presencia de grupos armados no estatales, represión y una infraestructura en mal estado. El TPS puede extenderse a un país con condiciones que caigan dentro de una o más de las tres bases estatutarias para la designación: conflicto armado en curso, desastres naturales o condiciones extraordinarias y temporales.

“Las condiciones de vida en Venezuela revelan un país en crisis, incapaz de proteger a sus propios ciudadanos”, dijo el secretario Mayorkas. “Es en tiempos de circunstancias extraordinarias y temporales como estas, que Estados Unidos da un paso al frente para apoyar a los nacionales venezolanos elegibles que están actualmente presentes en Estados Unidos mientras su país de origen busca recuperarse de las crisis actuales”.

Solo las personas que pueden demostrar residencia continua en Estados Unidos al 8 de marzo de 2021 son elegibles a TPS bajo la designación de Venezuela. Por su propia salud y seguridad, las personas no deben creer en los traficantes u otras personas que afirmen que la frontera ahora está abierta. Debido a la pandemia, las restricciones de viaje y admisión en la frontera siguen vigentes. 

Las personas que deseen el TPS deben presentar una solicitud con el Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos dentro del periodo inicial de registro de 180 días. También pueden solicitar Documentos de Autorización de Empleo (EAD) y autorización de viaje. Todas las personas que solicitan TPS son sometidas a verificaciones de seguridad y de antecedentes como parte de la determinación de elegibilidad. Puede encontrar más detalles sobre los criterios de elegibilidad para presentar una solicitud inicial de TPS y solicitar un EAD en la notificación del Registro Federal (FRN).

La FRN también proporciona información acerca de la Salida Forzosa Diferida (DED) para nacionales venezolanos y cómo pueden solicitar los EAD relacionados con la DED, a base del memorándum presidencial del 19 de enero de 2021 que establece la DED para nacionales venezolanos por 18 meses, hasta el 20 de julio de 2022. Las personas que soliciten y reciban TPS y también estén cubiertas por la DED no tienen que solicitar documentación de autorización de empleo bajo ambos programas. USCIS exhorta a las personas que crean que son elegibles a TPS a solicitar durante el periodo de registro inicial anunciado en la FRN, aún si están cubiertos por la DED, en caso de que no cualifiquen para una presentación inicial tardía a TPS después que la DED haya caducado.

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