US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. (Image courtesy Alejandro Mayorkas / Twitter)

As of Monday 8 March 2021, Venezuelan nationals living in the United States can apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in that country, for 18 months, until September 2022.

An official statement issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security this week confirms the new designation of TPS for Venezuela.

According to the statement, TPS will be extended to Venezuelan nationals in the USA—as well as individuals without nationality who last resided in Venezuela—so long as they meet eligibility requirements.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas explained this designation is due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent nationals from returning safely.

He noted that this includes the complex humanitarian crisis marked by widespread hunger and malnutrition, a growing influence and presence of non-state armed groups, repression, and a crumbling infrastructure. 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.

“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.”

U.S. Department of Homeland Security says only individuals who can demonstrate continuous residence in the United States as of March 8, 2021, are eligible for TPS under Venezuela’s designation.  For their own health and safety, individuals should not believe smugglers or others claiming the border is now open.  Due to the pandemic, travel and admission restrictions at the border remain in place.

Individuals desiring TPS must file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the 180-day registration period. They may also apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and for travel authorization. All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility.

More details about the eligibility criteria to submit an initial TPS application and apply for an EAD can be found in the Federal Register Notice (FRN). The FRN also provides information about Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Venezuelan nationals and how individuals may apply for DED-related EADs, based on the January 19, 2021, presidential memorandum establishing DED for Venezuelan nationals for 18 months, through July 20, 2022.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security explains that individuals who apply for and receive TPS, and who are also covered by DED, do not need to apply for Employment Authorization Documentations under both programs.

The USCIS is encouraging individuals who believe they are eligible for TPS to apply during the initial registration period announced in the FRN, even if they are also covered by DED, in case they cannot qualify for TPS late initial filing after DED has expired.