Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") is a form of humanitarian relief that allows nationals of designated countries to live, work, and study in the United States. Recently, Venezuela was designated for TPS. To be eligible, a person must generally (1) be a national of Venezuela; (2) demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since March 8, 2021; (3) have been continuously physically present in the United States since March 9, 2021; (4) apply before September 5, 2021, or qualify for late registration if the TPS designation is extended; (5) qualify for TPS in the exercise of discretion; and (6) not otherwise be subject to the numerous bars to eligibility.
There is a difference between continuous residence and continuous physical presence. Continuous residence permits "brief, casual, and innocent" trips abroad. Continuous physical presence, however, requires "actual physical presence in the United States for the entire period specified." Thus, Venezuelan nationals who are eligible for TPS now may lose that eligibility if they travel abroad even briefly.
Additionally, because TPS is a discretionary form of relief, the government is not required to grant TPS to eligible Venezuelan nationals. One possible issue that may trigger a discretionary denial is dual nationality. Thus, Venezuelans who hold dual nationality may be eligible for TPS but subject to greater risks.
Finally, there are numerous bars to eligibility for TPS, including criminal history, firm resettlement, certain grounds of inadmissibility, the persecutor bar, reasonable grounds to believe dangerousness to national security, serious reasons to believe a commission of a nonpolitical crime, and association with terrorist activity. Before applying for TPS, it is important to analyze whether you are subject to any of the mandatory or discretionary grounds for denial.
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