It has finally happened, President Biden is set to announce that as of Monday, March 8, 2021, Venezuelans in the United States may qualify for Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS.
WHO WILL QUALIFY FOR VENEZUELAN TPS?
The exact requirements for Venezuelan TPS have not yet been published (they should be soon), but based upon the TPS law and past TPS announcements, here is what I anticipate will be the TPS requirement for Venezuelans:
- Be a citizen or national of Venezuela, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in Venezuela;
- File during the open initial registration or re-registration period;
- Be continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of Venezuela (likely March 8, 2021);
- Be continuously residing in the United States since the date specified for Venezuela (likely March, 2021).
So, if you are a citizen of Venezuela and you have been in the U.S. since March 8, 2021, you may qualify for Venezuelan TPS and should register.
THINGS THAT CAN MAKE THE GOVERNMENT DENY YOUR TPS APPLICATION.
There are some people, who may meet all of these requirements, but are not eligible for TPS. Here are some of the disqualifying factors for TPS:
- You have a conviction for any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States (and a withhold of adjudication counts as a conviction for immigration purposes);
- You are inadmissible under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds;
- You are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum. These include, but are not limited to, participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity;
- You do not meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States requirements (you arrived in the U.S. after March 8, 2021);
- You do not meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements (you did not register for TPS on time).
What does that mean? If you have been convicted of any felony (a crime punishable by more than a year imprisonment); or two misdemeanors (crimes punishable by a year or less imprisonment- even traffic offenses); you are not eligible. If you have been convicted of only one misdemeanor, but it was a drug offense, or domestic violence or child abuse or some other specific offenses, you are not eligible. If you have harmed anyone or threaten to harm them because of things like their religion, political opinion, race, etc. you are not eligible. If you have had anything to do with terrorists activities, you are not eligible. If you did not come to the U.S. by March 8, 2021 you are not eligible Finally, If you do not register in time for TPS, you are not eligible.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF TPS?
You cannot be deported from the U.S. if you have TPS. You will be eligible for a work permit and a travel permit if you have TPS. There is also the possibility that you if you have TPS, the U.S. government will pass a law in the future that gives people with TPS the ability to apply for green cards simply because they have TPS.
HOW DO YOU FILE FOR TPS?
When the official rules are published, you will need to file a Form I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status, along with an I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. The fee should be $545 for both applications. After you file, you will receive a receipt notice from USCIS showing that your application was accepted (not approved, just filed properly). Then you will receive a biometrics notice to go and have your fingerprints and your photograph taken for background checks.
WHEN WILL I RECEIVE A DECISION ON MY TPS APPLICATION?
After that, it is a waiting game for USCIS to approve your work permit and TPS. It can take 4-12 months for a decision on TPS and work authorization. Usually, TPS is good for 12-18 month periods (along with the work permit) and TPS is usually renewed or extended many times by the government. It is important to renew your TPS and work permit every time they are going to expire so you do not fall out of status.
DO I NEED A LAWYER TO FILE FOR TPS?
If you think you are eligible for Venezuelan TPS, you should contact a qualified immigration attorney (not a paralegal or notario) immediately to discuss your options. If you do not file for TPS correctly, you may lose your eligibility for TPS. If you do not respond to a request for more evidence from the government, you may have your TPS denied. If you have a criminal history, the government can deny your TPS application.
An experienced immigration attorney can help you avoid all of these problems, so it is usually better to have an attorney help you than to do it yourself. Don’t forget, just because you have an asylum application pending or you are in immigration court does not mean you should not apply for TPS. If you qualify for TPS, you can and probably should apply for TPS unless you already have lawful permanent resident status or you are a U.S. citizen.
Call the experienced immigration attorneys at Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon today to see if you qualify for Venezuelan TPS.