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Biden designates Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status

Yesterday, the Biden administration announced the designation of Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, effective March 9, 2021, through September 9, 2022. This new TPS designation will enable eligible Venezuelan nationals who are currently residing in the US to file initial applications for TPS, and also seek both work and travel authorization.

According to the federal register noticed posted today, approximately 323,000 Venezuelans in the US will be able to apply for protection from deportation and work authorization.

Under the law, 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.

In the case of Venezuela, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas noted that the living conditions “reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens” as evidenced by the country’s “widespread hunger and malnutrition, a growing influence and presence of non-state armed groups, repression, and a crumbling infrastructure.”

Today’s federal register notice also provides information and about a similar humanitarian program available for eligible Venezuelans, known as Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). On January 19, 2021, former President Trump issued a memorandum granting DED and work authorization to Venezuelans residing in the U.S. as of January 20, 2021 for a period of 18 months through July 20, 2022.

TPS Eligibility

The Venezuelan TPS designation allows eligible Venezuelan nationals (and noncitizens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Venezuela) who have continuously resided in the United States since March 8, 2021, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since March 9, 2021, to apply for TPS.

In addition, applicants must meet the following general TPS requirements:

  • Have not been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the US
  • Have not been found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds
  • Are not to subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum, including participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity

TPS Application Process

  • The 180-day registration period for eligible individuals to submit TPS applications begins today, March 9, 2021, and will remain in effect through September 5, 2021.
  • To register for TPS based on the designation of Venezuela, applicants must submit an Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821) and pay the filing fee (or submit a Request for a Fee Waiver (Form I-912).
  • Biometrics (such as fingerprints) are required for all applicants 14 years of age and older. Those applicants must submit a biometric services fee, or if they are unable to pay, complete a Request for a Fee Waiver.
  • Applicants seeking work authorization can obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) valid through September 7, 2021 by filing an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) and paying the fee (unless eligible for a fee waiver). Applicants can also choose to skip the EAD now and file later, provided that they that have TPS or a pending TPS application.

Applicants are encouraged to file as soon as possible within the 180-day registration period to allow USCIS sufficient time to process the application and issue an EAD (if requested).

For more information on TPS, visit https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status. If you’re an immigration practitioner, and would like information on how a case management system can help facilitate the preparation of the I-821 and I-765 applications, please contact us here.

About John Fay

John Fay is an immigration attorney and technologist with a deep applied knowledge of I-9 compliance and E-Verify rules and procedures. During his career, John has advised human resource managers and executives on a wide variety of corporate immigration compliance issues, including the implementation of electronic I-9 systems. In his current role, John serves as President at the LawLogix division of Hyland Software, Inc., where he oversees all aspects of the division’s operations and provides strategic leadership and direction in the development and support of Form I-9, E-Verify, and immigration case management software solutions.