Eligible Venezuelans in the United States may now apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) according to an announcement made this week by Alexajandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). TPS is granted to individuals who cannot return to their home countries safely.  In the case of Venezuela, Secretary Mayorkas stated that the country has been in the midst a “severe political and economic crisis for several years” including a deterioration of democratic institutions, a health crisis, food insecurity, increase in crime and lack of access to basic services. As of now, the TPS designation will last for 18 months until September 9, 2022 and could be extended depending upon the in-country conditions at the time of the next assessment.

Those who wish to apply should do so during the initial registration period: March 9, 2021 through September 5, 2021. Among other elements of eligibility, applicants must meet two specific residency requirements:

  • Continuous residence in the United States since March 8, 2021; and
  • Continuous physical presence in the U.S. since March 9, 2021.

Applicants are also eligible to apply for travel authorization and employment authorization (EADs) that will be valid through September 9, 2022. Full instructions on the applications process can be found in the Federal Register.

One of Donald Trump’s last acts during his administration, on January 19, 2021, was to grant Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for certain Venezuelans. DED beneficiaries are not subject to removal during the designated time period, and in this case, were eligible to apply for EADs. The DED benefit applied only to individuals who were physically present in the United States on January 20, 2021 and was valid for 18 months until July 7, 2022.

Venezuelans who entered the United States after January 20, 2021 are only eligible for TPS. DHS is encouraging even individuals who already have DED EADs to apply for TPS and TPS EADs during the registration period because TPS will last longer than DED and they may not be able to timely apply for TPS when DED expires.

According to DHS, approximately 323,000 Venezuelans currently in United States are eligible for TPS.  TPS does not lead to legal permanent residence or citizenship.  However, a path to citizenship is one of the things that the Biden Administration has proposed for all TPS beneficiaries.