I live and work in Florida, surrounded by an amazing community. When anyone suffers, people step up. And the suffering in Venezuela has been clearly visible to anyone watching.
That’s why I’m glad to see that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is stepping up to administer a new parole program for Venezuelan nationals. The program is intended to help Venezuelans outside the US who are seeking to escape the dire situation in that country, while discouraging Venezuelans from attempting to enter the US between ports of entry/without authorization. While parole programs are generally considered humanitarian in nature, responding to the invasion of Ukraine for instance, in this case, the program appears to be more of a border management tool.
Up to 24,000 Venezuelan nationals would be able to enter the U.S. under the program each year, a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers of Venezuelans fleeing that country. According to UNHCR, there are over 6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants worldwide. Under the new program, those Venezuelans who attempt to cross the southern border of the US illegally will be returned to Mexico and will be ineligible for the new parole process in the future. It’s a carrot and a stick approach. For the 24,000 parolees a year, this will be a game changer, giving them a life raft in a very dangerous and scary situation.
According to USCIS, application for benefits under the new program requires the submission of an affidavit of support by a qualified US supporter as a first step, followed by a parole request that will ultimately be adjudicated by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Under the terms of the new program, Venezuelan nationals and their immediate family members would get permission to come to the U.S for up to two years and get a work permit.
For immigration law practitioners looking for more specificity, AILA has a practice resource, but boiled down, similar to the Uniting for Ukraine program, Venezuelans would need to be vetted, and of course comply with any vaccination requirements. There are definite limitations of eligibility, including barring unaccompanied minors for instance.
Clearly the program is aimed at discouraging Venezuelans from seeking to enter the US unlawfully by providing a benefit to those who do not. This is a good step forward.
AILA members seeking more information about the process should register now for the FREE roundtable Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at 4 p.m. If you miss it, a recording will be available for members.