In a shift in the United States’ policy toward Venezuela, the Joe Biden administration is offering temporary residency to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans.
The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) would allow an estimated 320,000 people to apply to legally live and work in the US for 18 months.
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 a statement issued on Monday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas designated Venezuela for TPS until September 2022, given the “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”.
“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.
The cut-off date is aimed at discouraging smugglers from enticing other Venezuelans to travel to the US. The Department of Homeland Security reminded that due to the pandemic, travel and admission restrictions at the border remain in place.
Individuals desiring TPS must file an application with US Citizenship and Immigration Services within the 180-day registration period.
The previous Donald Trump administration had resisted repeated calls to grant TPS to Venezuelans.
But Biden had promised on the campaign trail that he would extend the protections for Venezuelans in the US.
Last year, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had extended the TPS for nationals from Haiti until October 4, 2021.
DHS also extended TPS, until the same time, for beneficiaries from El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan.