U.S. to allow Venezuelans with a financial sponsor to come to the U.S. and obtain work permission for two years

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced two changes related to the treatment of Venezuelans seeking refuge in the U.S. One will provide for their rapid expulsion at the U.S. border. Previously Mexico would not allow Venezuelans to be returned to Mexico from the U.S. border so the U.S. could not expel them. The U.S. can now (after negotiating an agreement with Mexico) remove Venezuelans under Title 42, a Trump-era public health policy that blocks migrants from seeking asylum at the border.

On a much more positive note, DHS will now allow some Venezuelans with a U.S. financial sponsor to enter the country lawfully. This has been described as a bid to deter “illegal” crossing along the southern border. However, it should be noted that going to the border and asking for asylum is legal, not illegal.

Under the new sponsorship program, modeled after the recent policy allowing Ukrainians to enter the U.S., Venezuelans will be granted permission to fly to a U.S. airport, stay in the U.S. for two years, and obtain work permission. There is a cap of 24,000 along with other eligibility restrictions. Those who have been deported from the U.S. in the past 5 years are ineligible. The process includes a check of the financial sponsor (who is not required to be a relative) to prove they are in the U.S. legally and have the financial ability to sponsor a migrant. A background check of the person seeking entry will be conducted and a valid passport or one that expired no more than 5 years ago is also required.

U.S. officials will, at some point, evaluate the Venezuelan sponsorship program in deciding whether to continue it and whether to expand it to migrants from other countries such as Cuba and Nicaragua.

My office is available to represent those who wish to sponsor a Venezuelan under this new program.

Linda M Kaplan