The United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) extended the initial application process for Venezuelans who want to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from 180 days to 18 months. Those who want to apply for the status now have until September 2022 to do so, which they can do online, according to the official website of USCIS.
President Biden’s Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas designated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status in March 2021 due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The status allows Venezuelans who are in the United States to stay and work legally as long as the TPS designation lasts.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans are eligible for TPS
Millions of Venezuelans have left their home country since 2015 due to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro. Although the substantial majority of Venezuelan emigres have relocated to South America, with more than a million fleeing to Colombia, a substantial number of Venezuelans have also come to the United States with at least 129,000 have claimed asylum in America, albeit the number of Venezuelans in the U.S is probably much higher.
In fact, hundreds of Venezuelans have made the dangerous trip through Mexico and towards the border with the United States in order to claim asylum in America and escape the dreadful conditions in their country. A shocking feat as Venezuela is much farther away from the southern border than countries like Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.
Currently, the TPS designation will be active until September 9th, 2022, but that time period could be extended at the will of the Department of Homeland Security. As of today, there are 11 other countries with the TPS designation: Nicaragua, Yemen, Burma (Myanmar), Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria.
USCIS also extended the registration period for TPS applicants of Syria and Burma (Myanmar) to 2022. According to the Pew Research Center, there are approximately 300,000 Venezuelans, 7,00 Syrians and 1,600 Burmese are eligible for TPS status as of 2021.
Venezuelans in the U.S have also been eligible for DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) since January 19th, 2021 when former President Trump granted that status to Venezuelans on his last day in office, this legal figure also allows Venezuelans to stay and work legally in the United States for 18 months.
In order to be eligible for TPS Status, the applicants should be continuously residing in the U.S at the date of the TPS designation, not being prosecuted for any felony, being a national of the country designated for TPS, file the application, and pay the required fees during the application period, among other requirements.
The future of TPS
TPS is currently temporary humanitarian permission to stay and work in the United States for nationals of countries in dire humanitarian crisis (whether those are man-made or natural), meaning that it does not provide by itself a route to residency.
The program has been under some controversy over the last few years, with the Trump administration canceling the program for countries like Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador during his years in office, a decision that was then extensively challenged in the American Court system.
However, Congressional Democrats have included a legislative proposal to include a path to citizenship for TPS holders, DACA recipients, and agricultural workers. This would be added to the $3 trillion Infrastructure reconciliation bill that has been pushed by Democrats alongside the previously arranged bipartisan infrastructure bill.
This proposal would not need Republican votes as it would be passed through the budget reconciliation process, which only needs a simple majority in both chambers to get passed. The details of the Democrat reconciliation package are still being negotiated, whether the path to citizenship for TPS holders will be included remains unknown.