On October 12, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new program for Venezuelan citizens. According to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, “these actions make clear that there is a lawful and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and lawful entry is the only way.” Mayorkas added “those who attempt to cross the southern border of the United States illegally will be returned to Mexico and will be ineligible for this process in the future. Those who follow the lawful process will have the opportunity to travel safely to the United States and become eligible to work here.”
This effort is intended to enhance border security by reducing the number of Venezuelans seeking to irregularly enter the United States. It is derived from the success of the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program, which decreased flows at the border by creating an orderly process for the entry of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
To be eligible, Venezuelans must:
- have a supporter in the United States who will provide financial and other support;
- pass rigorous 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 the date of announcement;
- have irregularly entered Mexico or Panama after the date of 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.
Venezuelans approved via this process will be authorized on a case-by-case basis to travel to the United States by air directly to an interior port of entry, thus relieving pressure at the border. Once in the United States, they will be eligible to apply for work authorization.