Venezuela has seen intense political unrest due to Nicolas Maduro’s autocratic regime. While the United States recognizes interim President Juan Guaidó and has imposed sanctions on the country, Maduro has sent the country spiraling into a humanitarian crisis involving an intense economic downturn and a shortage of essential goods and medicine. Many Venezuelans have fled for their lives.
On 8th March 2021, due to these dangerous conditions, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, announced that a new designation was to be added to the list of eligible countries which allow nationals from those countries to apply for TPS. This is effective from 9th March, 2021.
What is TPS? – It is a temporary immigration status given to certain foreign nations, from certain foreign countries, who are experiencing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or humanitarian crisis as examples. This temporary status allows those who qualify to stay in the USA lawfully without the fear of deportation. The status is temporary but also allows for them to apply for a temporary work permit. Venezuela has now been included in the list of eligible countries.
Reasons for Eligibility for TPS
· Health Crisis
· Severe economic and political crisis
· Food insecurity, marked by widespread hunger, and malnutrition
· Increasing incidents of Crime and a growing influence and presence of non-state armed groups
· Lack of access to basic services including Gas, Electricity, and Water
· A crumbling infrastructure. Eligibility Criterion
· Must be a national of Venezuela, or if they are a person without Nationality, they must have habitually resided in Venezuela
· Must file their TPS application during open registration which is currently 9th March 2021 – 5th September, 2021.
· Venezuelans, must prove they have been continuously and physically present within the USA since 9th March 2021.
· Must prove they have been residing on the USA since 8th March, 2021.
· Those who qualify may receive TPS benefits for 18 months until 9th September, 2022.
· All applicants must undertake security and background checks.
· Once approved, an individual cannot be detained by the DHS on the basis of their immigration status.
· Applicants may also apply for Employment Authorization Documents (permission to work) and for travel authorization.
· The Biden administration noted that while these TPS protections could be extended, they are not permanent, and the designation should not encourage Venezuelans outside the U.S. to come here.
· TPS is temporary and DOES NOT lead to lawful permanent resident status. However, it does not prevent those from:
(i) Applying for nonimmigrant status
(ii) Filing for an adjustment of status on an immigrant petition
(iii) Applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which they may be eligible.