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Outgoing Trump Administration Announces 18-Month Protections for Venezuelans

In an unexpected action by the outgoing Trump administration, the White House announced Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED, for 18 months for certain Venezuelans in the U.S. The Presidential Memorandum issued on Jan. 19, 2021, outlines the details of who will qualify for temporary protection from deportation and work authorization.

In summary, Venezuelan nationals, or people without Venezuelan nationality who last habitually resided in Venezuela, physically present in the United States as of Jan. 20, 2021 are eligible for DED except those who among other things:

  • have voluntarily returned to Venezuela or their country of last habitual residence outside the United States;
  • have not continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 20, 2021;
  • have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
  • were deported, excluded, or removed, prior to Jan. 20, 2021;

The Memorandum further directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to issue procedures for employment authorization to people covered under DED for Venezuela in the Federal Register.

Our firm will continue to report on developments as they occur. Eligible Venezuelans seeking work authorization will likely be required to apply for an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD. USCIS has not yet set up a procedure to apply for the work permit yet.

It is estimated that upwards of 200,000 people will receive protection from deportation and work authorization as a result of this action. This designation of DED for Venezuela is the first initial DED designation since 2007.

Our firm expects additional and significant immigration law and policy changes in connection with the change in administration. Please stay tuned for future Agency Updates.

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