Temporary Protected Status Approved for Venezuelans in the United States
On March 8, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security approved Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans in the United States. TPS is a humanitarian benefit, which is approved for those who are nationals of a foreign country when conditions temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or where the country cannot adequately handle the return of its nationals. The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate TPS for temporary conditions such as an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, an epidemic, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
Here, the Secretary designated TPS for Venezuelans in the United States due to the severe humanitarian emergency, which includes economic contraction, inflation and hyperinflation, deepening poverty, reduced access to and shortages of food and medicine, human rights abuses and repression, and a collapse in basic services, among other factors. 86 FR 13574. The Secretary’s notice in the Federal Register states “. . . CRS reported in August 2020 that human rights conditions are even worse under Maduro than under former President Chávez. The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission created by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of atrocities since 2014 concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that pro-government groups and high-level authorities, including Maduro, had committed violations amounting to crimes against humanity.” Id.
TPS will offer several benefits to Venezuelans residing in the United States. First, those with TPS will receive 18 months of protection against removal or deportation from the United States. Second, those with TPS will qualify to receive employment authorization and a social security number. Finally, those with TPS may also qualify to apply for Advance Parole, which is a special permission to travel abroad and return to the United States in certain circumstances. TPS is a temporary benefit, however, the Secretary may choose to re-designate TPS in the future and provide the opportunity for those with TPS to re-register and continue to receive TPS benefits.
Under the proposed U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, persons with TPS may have the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency, also known as a “green card.” Of course, we cannot predict the future and if or when the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 will become a law. However, if the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 were to pass exactly as it is written today, it may provide an opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency for certain Venezuelans with TPS.