Venezuelans who arrived in the United States before July 31, 2023 will be able to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), the government of Joe Biden announced on Wednesday, in what meant a victory for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from that country who could not work and were not protected from deportation.
The program, the government announced, will benefit another 472,000 Venezuelans and will be extended for 18 more months, which will also benefit hundreds of thousands of immigrants of that nationality who were already covered by a previous version of TPS.
TPS "offers people already in the United States protection from removal when conditions in their home country prevent their safe return," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
[Biden expands TPS for Venezuelans, offers hundreds of thousands the possibility of a work permit]
"That is the situation in which Venezuelans who arrived here on July 31 of this year or earlier find themselves," Mayorkas said, warning that those who arrived after that date "are not eligible" and "will be removed when it is found that they do not have a legal basis to remain (in the country)."
According to official figures, to date there are at least 242,700 Venezuelans covered by the program and another 472,000 new applicants could now benefit.
📃 How to apply?
The government has not yet said when new applications for Form I-821, or Application for Temporary Protected Status, will begin to be received, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) clarified in a statement.
If the interested applicant meets the U.S. date requirement, they must also ensure that:
- You can prove that you are Venezuelan. To do this, you must present a birth certificate or official identifications from your country.
- Prove that you have resided in the United States on or before July 31. Authorities usually receive as evidence immigration documents showing the date of entry. Also receipts or invoices with the applicant's name, place and date.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stipulates that "all TPS applicants must wait until publication in the Federal Register for their respective country of TPS to file their Form I-821."
💵 How much does it cost?
In addition to offering protection from deportation, the program allows beneficiaries to file an application for Form I-765 or Application for Employment Authorization.
These are two separate applications that can be submitted together or individually. An immigrant can first apply for TPS without applying for their work permit, but they must apply for TPS if they want to enjoy the benefit of employment authorization under the program.
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USCIS details on its website the fees immigrants must pay for a new application (per person):
- Children under 14 who wish to apply for TPS, but not for the work permit, must pay $ 50. The cost is the same if you also want to apply for employment authorization.
- For those between the ages of 15 and 65, the price does vary:
The total cost for both applications is $545. This includes 50 for TPS, 85 for biometric services such as fingerprints and 410 for work permit application.
- If you are over 65, USCIS requires a payment of $135: $ 50 for application to the program and $85 for biometric services.
🚨 "A second chance"
"This is a fantastic opportunity for people who didn't arrive on time the first time to apply for TPS, receive legal status in this country, receive a work permit and have peace of mind," said immigration attorney Eduardo Vega of Miami, Florida-based law firm Lovo & Vega.
"It's a second chance," he said, and perhaps "a final chance" for those who couldn't make it in 2021 when new applications were accepted.
Venezuelans celebrate in Miami, Florida, the approval of TPS for Venezuela in March 2021.EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI / AFP via Getty Images
It also allows those who "were very confident because they have pending asylum, to apply now, because a TPS is a thousand times stronger than having an asylum pending in court or having an asylum pending with USCIS," he recommended.
Those who were born in another country, but became naturalized Venezuelans, must prove that they obtained citizenship and lived most of their lives in Venezuela, he explained.
[Biden extends TPS protecting 18,340 immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Nepal by 000 months]
The program, which was extended for another 18 months, was in effect until March 10, 2024, according to USCIS. It was not immediately clear whether the extension applies after the announcement or after the previous deadline expires. Nor when protection will begin for new applicants.
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In its statement, the Department of Homeland Security said a publication in the Federal Register will explain "the criteria, timelines and processes necessary" for renewals and new applicants. This while USCIS continues to process the applications it has pending, he said.
🗣️ New applications for Venezuela, but why not for Nicaragua and other countries with TPS
Venezuela is not the only country in the region that has the protection of TPS: historically, immigrants from Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador have been beneficiaries of the program, but for several decades no new applications have been opened and only those of the 'tepesianos' already registered have been renewed.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) has criticized the Biden Administration for not allowing more Nicaraguans to be covered by TPS, despite the fact that the Central American country has suffered a sociopolitical crisis since 2018 that has pushed 605,043 people into exile, according to a report published in June by the Human Rights Collective Nicaragua Nunca Más.
Organizations and activists have called on the government to allow TPS applications for Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag
"President Biden and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have been considering this redesignation, fully aware of the current conditions in the country and the compelling reasons why Nicaraguans need it," the FLIC said a week ago in a statement where it detailed that "more than 200,000 Nicaraguans" seek "immigration status in the United States."
Attorney Vega considered that leaving out countries like Nicaragua, "was one of the biggest failures of this announcement."
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At a minimum, he noted, "they should redesignate TPS for Nicaraguans who arrived after April 2018."
Sources familiar with the decision to open new applications for Venezuelans, revealed to NBC News that the decision was due to pressure from New York City Mayor Eric Adams and other Democratic politicians who have criticized the federal government's response to the arrival of thousands of immigrants. mainly from Venezuela, to the city that currently hosts at least 60,000 people in its shelter system.