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Deferred Enforced Departure for Venezuelans in the United States

Written by: Ignacio Sanz Perez

On January 19, 2021, amid the tireless and brave efforts of advocacy groups, the White House granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to provide immediate relief to eligible Venezuelans in the United States, including access to employment authorization. DED is a temporary immigration benefit. The newly elected President of the United States will have the discretion to extend the program before its expiration.  

The DED designation for Venezuela is effective January 20, 2021, and will be in effect for 18 months. Throughout this period, eligible nationals of Venezuela (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Venezuela) who are approved for DED will not be removed from the United States and may receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 

To be eligible for DED, applicants must demonstrate that they satisfy all eligibility criteria, including:

(1) physical and continuous presence in the United States as of January 20, 2021; and

(2) have not voluntarily returned to Venezuela or their country of last habitual residence outside the United States.

Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible; thus, DED applicants must also show that they: 

(3) are admissible under section 212(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 USC 1182(a)(3)) and not removable under section 237(a)(4) of the INA (8 USC 1227(a)(4);

(4) have neither been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors, participated in the persecution of others, convicted of a serious crime indicating a danger to the community of the United States, committed a serious nonpolitical crime outside the United States before arriving to the United States, constituted a danger to the security of the United States, nor firmly resettled in another country before coming to the United States;

(5) have not been deported, excluded, or removed prior to January 20, 2021;

(6) are not subject to extradition;

(7) their presence in the United States has not been determined against the interest of the United States or a danger to public safety, and 

(8) there are no reasonable grounds to believe that their presence in the United States have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences. 

The Department of Homeland Security will likely update the process to apply for DED, which may include paying a filing fee of $410 for the Employment Authorization Card (EAD) and $85 for biometrics. We will update this publication accordingly. 

Advocacy groups estimate that upwards of 150,000 to 200,000 Venezuelans in the United States could benefit from this form of relief. If you have not sought legal advice, the DED designation for Venezuela may be an opportunity for you. There may also be other more permanent immigration relief available for you, depending on your particular circumstances. If you would like to discuss options and your case, contact our office for an appointment.