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This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

On October 12, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced joint actions with Mexico to reduce the number of people arriving at the Southwest border and “create a more orderly and safe process for people fleeing the humanitarian and economic crisis in Venezuela.” The actions include a new process to bring up to 24,000 qualifying Venezuelans into the United States and provide them with work authorization. Those who cross the border between ports of entry without authorization will be ineligible. DHS also said it would not implement this process “without Mexico keeping in place its independent but parallel effort to accept the return of Venezuelan nationals who bypass this process and attempt to enter irregularly.”

To be eligible, Venezuelans must:

  • Have a supporter in the United States who will provide financial and other support;
  • Pass biometric and biographic national security and public safety screening and vetting; and
  • Complete vaccinations and other public health requirements.

Venezuelans are ineligible if they:

  • Have been ordered removed from the United States in the previous five years;
  • Have crossed without authorization between ports of entry after October 12, 2022;
  • Have irregularly entered Mexico or Panama after the date of the announcement, or are a permanent resident or dual national of any country other than Venezuela, or currently hold refugee status in any country; or
  • Have not completed vaccinations and other public health requirements.

DHS said additional information would be made available “in the coming days” on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ “Process for Venezuelans” page. Some Venezuelans who were already en route to the United States reportedly said the new policy leaves them in limbo and favors those who are well-off or well-connected. Some are on foot and sold everything they had to make the trek. An estimated 180,000 Venezuelans have entered the United States via the border with Mexico so far this year.

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