By: Minerva Santiago Acevedo, 2L
On March 8, 2021, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced the assignment of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuela. TPS grants people who cannot return to their countries because of “natural disasters, armed conflicts, or other conditions” protection from being deported and a work permit.
Venezuela was granted TPS due to the humanitarian crisis of recent years, with negative effects on the “economy, human rights, medical care, crime, and access to food and basic services”. Other countries that are currently protected under TPS are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.
Approximately 300,000 Venezuelans in the United States are eligible to apply for TPS, which, if granted, would allow them to stay in the United States for 18 months. Venezuela’s TPS designation expires in September 2022. However, if the country’s conditions remain unstable, TPS can be renewed. The registration period for Venezuelans to apply for TPS is from March 19, 2021 to September 5, 2021. The application includes a $540 fee. Applicants will go through background and security checks.
In addition, on January 19, 2021, President Trump signed a Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), granting an 18-month protection to Venezuelans at risk of deportation who were in the United States from January 20, 2021 and meet the necessary requirements. DED is enforced at the President’s discretion, and the standard that determines if a country is qualified for DED is similar to the ones that would warrant TPS. DED applies to Venezuelan immigrants until July, 20, 2022. People who were granted DED should still apply for TPS protection.
Previously, President Trump had expanded the economic sanctions towards Venezuela. The Biden administration will review the sanctions the President Trump imposed on Venezuela. In addition, President Biden requested Congress to approve a law that permits some TPS recipients that meet some requirements to apply for green cards immediately, which will allow them to become lawful permanent residents. The proposed legislation would allow TPS recipients to apply for citizenship three years after receiving their green card. Currently, there is no path to citizenship for TPS recipients. However, this proposed legislation would establish a clear citizenship path for TPS recipients.