What Is Deferred Enforced Departure for Venezuelans?
Author: Jameel Manji, Founder, Manji Law, P.C.
Mr. Manji founded Manji Law in 2016 to follow his passion of helping people navigate the complicated immigration system. Mr. Manji graduated from Georgia State University College of Law and received Master of Taxation from the Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Published on: January 25. 2021.
As one of his final acts in office, former President Trump granted Deferred Enforced Departure for Venezuelan citizens living in the United States. Here, we’ll break down what that is and what it may mean for you.
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Understanding Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
As of Tuesday, January 19, 2021, the White House stated that it will approve Deferred Enforced Departure for Venezuelans currently living in the United States. This will allow people who meet the criteria to continue living and working in the U.S. for the next 18 months.
Deferred Enforced Departure or DED is a method of relief for foreign nationals living in the United States, similar to Temporary Protected Status or TPS. The main difference between DED and TPS is who makes the decision to extend the benefit. With Deferred Enforced Departure, the U.S. President issues the order, whereas, with Temporary Protected Status, the Department of Homeland Security makes the decision. Both relief options are used in crisis situations such as war, natural disaster, or “widespread civil strife.”
It is important to note that DED is a temporary benefit, and the time period for which it applies may vary, depending on the specific order given by the President. The current stay of removal for Venezuelans applies for 18 months.
According to the memorandum, the order covers all Venezuelans currently living in the United States, except for those who:
- (1) have voluntarily returned to Venezuela or their country of last habitual residence outside the United States;
- (2) have not continuously resided in the United States since January 20, 2021;
- (3) are inadmissible under section 212(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)) or removable under section 237(a)(4) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(4));
- (4) who have been convicted of any felony or 2 or more misdemeanors committed in the United States, or who meet the criteria set forth in section 208(b)(2)(A) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(2)(A));
- (5) who were deported, excluded, or removed, prior to January 20, 2021;
- (6) who are subject to extradition;
- (7) whose presence in the United States the Secretary of Homeland Security has determined is not in the interest of the United States or presents a danger to public safety; or
- (8) whose presence in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.
Although advocates have been pushing for TPS for Venezuelans for the past few years, DED is a step in the right direction that will offer some measure of protection and allow people to continue living and working safely in the United States for the time being.
DED and Work Eligibility for Venezuelans
The executive memorandum from former President Trump states that Venezuelans to whom DED applies will be able to legally work in the U.S. However, the process for getting legal work documents is a separate process from getting approved for DED or other status changes.
In order to obtain a work permit or what is formally known as an EAD (Employment Authorization Document), foreign nationals are required to file Form I-765. The I-765 form can be used to apply for your social security number at the same time as you apply for a work permit.
In order to complete the application for a work permit, you typically need to have proof that you fit into one of the eligibility categories listed on USCIS’s instructions.
Because DED for Venezuelans happened so recently, the form may not yet be updated with instructions on how to list your category. An immigration attorney will be aware of the most recent changes and rules and will be able to help you complete the application properly.
How to Apply for DED
The decision to approve Deferred Enforced Departure for Venezuelan citizens is such a recent change that USCIS has not yet published directions on how to apply for the stay of removal. When it is updated, the site will list information about who can apply, what forms to fill out, the cost of the application, and more.
In the meantime, the best way to pursue DED for yourself or a loved one is to speak with an experienced immigration attorney like the team at Manji Law. At Manji Law, we make it our business to stay up to date with the latest changes in immigration law. Our team is dedicated to helping you and your family live, work, and thrive in the United States.
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