Venezuelans living in the United States have a big reason to celebrate - after years of discussions, rumors and speculation, they have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS). USCIS is accepting TPS applications under this program now.
On March 8, 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas designated Venezuela for TPS until September 2022, meaning that eligible Venezuelans living in the United States can now file initial applications for TPS.
Venezuelans have already been eligible for deferred enforced departure, pursuant to the Memoranda former President Trump set forth in his last day in office, but the status of TPS for Venezuela had still been uncertain. In our last blog about Venezuelan nationals, we told you about bipartisan legislation that was introduced in the Senate called the Venezuela Temporary Protected Status Act of 2021. However, that proposed Act has not been passed by Congress yet, so this designation by Homeland Security (DHS) is extremely significant.
An estimated 200,000 Venezuelans in the United States may qualify for TPS, although a 2019 report by the Congressional Budget Office puts that number closer to 300,000. Over 5 million have left Venezuela because of the crisis, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
WHAT ARE THE TPS FOR VENEZUELA REQUIREMENTS?
In order to be eligible you must demonstrate:
- You have Venezuelan nationality or last habitually resided in Venezuela.
- You have continuously resided in in the United States as of March 8, 2021 are eligible for TPS.
- You have been continuously physically present in the United States since March 9, 2021.
WHAT COULD DISQUALIFY ME FROM TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS?
Criminal history and other grounds could disqualify one for TPS including:
- Two misdemeanor convictions or one felony conviction.
- Inadmissibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act, such as criminal activity, controlled substance violations, immigration fraud or terrorist and national security related grounds.
- Any mandatory bars that apply to asylum, such as firm resettlement in a third country.
If you have criminal convictions or believe that one of the other grounds might apply to your case, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
WHAT WILL TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS GIVE ME?
- TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to permanent resident status (unless adjustment of status is granted on an immigration petition). However, TPS beneficiaries, or people who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS:
- Are not removable from the United States;
- Can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD);
- May be granted travel authorization.
Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS?
- The registration period for Venezuelans to apply for TPS is currently limited to March 9, 2021 – Sept. 5, 2021. It is very important that eligible applicants apply during this registration period as the late filing requirements are very strict. We recommend applicants not wait until the last minute to file.
- Applicants must file the Form I-821 with USCIS including the appropriate filing fees and supporting evidence of eligibility during the initial registration period. You should also include the I-765 application for work authorization with your application in most cases.
DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION?
- If you are trying to work in the United States, you will need an employment authorization (EAD) card, which can be applied for at the same time as TPS. Although individuals covered by Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) do not need to apply for EAD under both programs, USCIS is encouraging individuals who believe they are eligible for TPS to file for EAD in this initial registration period, even if they are covered by DED. This is because the authorization period of EAD under TPS has a later expiration date than that of DED.
- If you are a Venezuelan with an existing asylum application, you may not need to apply for an EAD with your TPS application.
WHAT IF I ALREADY HAVE AN ASYLUM APPLICATION PENDING?
If you already have an asylum application pending with USCIS and are eligible to file for TPS as a Venezuelan, we recommend you file for TPS during the initial registration period. You may not need to file the application for work authorization because the pending asylum application provides an applicant with work authorization. If you have questions about this contact us.
Fill out our form to Find out if you are eligible for TPS for Venezuelans!
If you have questions about applying for TPS or Deferred Enforced Departure, please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.