Venezuelans in the U.S. Receive Opportunity to Apply for Deferred Enforced Departure

January 20, 2021 Any Venezuelan national, or person without nationality who last habitually resided in Venezuela, who was present in the United States as of the order's effective date has permission to remain temporarily in the United States for the next 18 months; that is, has Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

By , J.D.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

U.S. immigration law allows for something called Venezuelans in the U.S. Can Apply for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), under which people from designated countries and regions that are experiencing political or civic conflict or natural disaster can receive permission to remain temporarily in the United States. In technical terms, DED provides an administrative stay of removal, such that the person cannot be deported based on unlawful presence for a set period of time. It also typically comes with the possibility of employment authorization.

Before leaving office, President Trump issued a memorandum directing the relevant federal agencies to allow DED, with certain exceptions, to any Venezuelan national or person without nationality who last habitually resided in Venezuela who was present in the United States as of the order's effective date. (See 86 FR 6845, 1/25/21.)

The stated basis for the grant was that the Nicolas Maduro regime has, through force and fraud, created a humanitarian crisis including a catastrophic economic crisis and shortages of basic goods and medicines.

There are exceptions. No DED will be granted to any Venezuelan:

  • who is inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3) or removable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(4)
  • who has been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors that were committed in the U.S., or who matches 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(2)(A))
  • who was deported, excluded, or removed from the U.S. before January 20, 2021
  • who is subject to extradition
  • whose presence is not in the interest of the United States or who presents a danger to public safety, or
  • whose presence in the U.S. would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences.

The DED designation for Venezuela will last for 18 months, unless the Biden Administration takes steps to extend it. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should provide future instructions on procedures to receive this benefit or to obtain employment authorization, which the Trump order does allow for.

Be aware that DED is not, legally speaking, considered any sort of "status" in the U.S., and does not lead to a green card or U.S. citizenship.

Effective Date: January 20, 2021