Individuals from Venezuela currently have an important option for remaining in the United States thanks to the Temporary Protected Status designation (“TPS”) for Venezuela. However, the deadline to register for Venezuelan TPS is approaching soon. To qualify for Venezuelan TPS, applicants must register by September 9, 2022. This means that USCIS must receive the applications and fees by September 9, 2022.
What is TPS, and how does it impact individuals from Venezuela (and other designated countries)?
From our team of New Orleans immigration attorneys at Pelton + Balducci, here’s what you need to know about TPS, why Venezuela is designated for TPS, and the benefits of TPS.
What Is Temporary Protected Status?
Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) was introduced with the Immigration Act in 1990. It is a tool that allows the U.S. to protect citizens of certain countries that are unsafe and unable to handle the return of their citizens. It is NOT a way for people who are not yet in the U.S. to gain admission. Rather, it is only available to those in the U.S. at the time of their country’s TPS designation and who meet other criteria. TPS can even protect individuals who are threatened with deportation or already have a removal order, so long as they meet all the requirements.
The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can designate a country for TPS on account of man-made or natural disasters.
Some of these include:
- There is an ongoing armed conflict in the protected country. This is one possible reason for a country to be designated for TPS, as the conflict poses a significant threat to people returning. For this reason, Ukraine was designated for TPS on April 19, 2022.
- Natural disasters: If there is a significant natural disaster that damages infrastructure or otherwise creates hazardous conditions where the country cannot handle returning citizens, this is another reason a country may be designated for TPS. As an example, Haiti was initially designated for Temporary Protected Status after the devastating 2010 earthquake.
- Extraordinary Circumstances: this is a broad category that can include a lot of potential reasons, or which can be used to justify granting Temporary Protected Status for a combination of reasons.
Why Has Venezuela Been Given Temporary Protected Status?
Venezuela has been given temporary protected status due to multiple crises the country is facing, including infrastructure and economic failures that are causing malnutrition and other significant hardships for its citizens.
Because Venezuela cannot handle an influx of its citizens who would be returning from other countries, including those currently in the United States, the Biden Administration designated Venezuela for TPS and has recently extended that designation for an additional 18 months (until March 10, 2024).
Note that the extended designation for TPS does not extend the September 9, 2022 registration deadline.
Under the recent extension, eligible Venezuelans who timely register or re-register will benefit from Temporary Protected Status until March 10, 2024.
What Does Temporary Protected Status Mean For Venezuelan Immigrants?
Venezuelan nationals who wish to qualify for TPS need to apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the registration period in order to be protected. The vast majority of individuals who miss the registration period will be ineligible for TPS, so it is extremely important to register on time. The registration period for Venezuela TPS ends on September 9, 2022. So if you are eligible and have not yet registered, you should do so NOW!!
If the TPS application is approved, Temporary Protected Status provides a range of important protections and benefits for Venezuelan nationals in the United States, including:
- Protection from detention or removal from the United States due to lack of status
- Eligibility for work authorization
- Eligibility for travel authorization
- NOTE: You must apply for work and travel authorization in addition to TPS, using separate forms. These are not automatically conferred upon TPS approval.
When To File For Temporary Protected Status?
If you are eligible for Temporary Protected Status but have not yet applied, you must apply by September 9, 2022.
Who is Eligible for TPS?
To be eligible for TPS, you must:
- Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;
- File during the initial registration or re-registration period, subject to very limited exceptions;
- Have been continuously physically present (CPP) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country; and
- Have been continuously residing (CR) in the United States since the date specified for your country. The law allows an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for “brief, casual and innocent departures” from the United States.
- Note that individuals with other types of status (e.g., students in F-1 status) are also eligible for TPS.
You may NOT be eligible for TPS or to maintain your existing TPS if you:
- Have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
- Are found “inadmissible” under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds (note that there are waivers available for certain grounds of inadmissibility);
- Are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum. These include, but are not limited to, “firmly resettling” in another country immediately prior to coming to the United Statea or participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity;
- Fail to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States requirements;
- Fail to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements; or
- If granted TPS, you fail to re-register for TPS, as required, without good cause.
Need An Immigration Attorney In New Orleans?
Securing immigration protections, even under Temporary Protected Status protections, can be complicated. If you need help navigating the system and securing protected status, a qualified immigration attorney can help.
At Pelton and Balducci Immigration Lawyers we have a proven track record of success helping our clients with their immigration cases. Even if your situation is complicated, we may be able to help.
Contact Pelton and Balducci Immigration Lawyers to get started as soon as possible.