ORLANDO, Fla. – The Department of Homeland Security announced the U.S. will be granting Temporary Protective Status, or TPS, to as many as 320,000 Venezuelans living in the country.

The decision by the Biden administration to grant the protective status will allow for those undocumented Venezuelans to live and work legally in the U.S.

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Cecilia González is a Venezuelan national who left her country 3 years ago.

“I do live in the country of opportunities, but I do understand that my legal status can stop some of those opportunities and now with TPS I see a lot of more opportunities coming to me,” González said.

Before leaving Venezuela with her family, Cecilia was 18 and a college student–participating in student movements protesting the Maduro regime. Since taking power in 2013, Maduro has been accused of undermining democracy and violating human rights in Venezuela.

“I have a bunch of group(s) of friends who we all have been fighting for this kind of relief because the TPS is a relief for my community,” González, now 22, said.

The announcement by White House officials comes days after Colombia granted legal status to nearly 2 million Venezuelan migrants living there for the next decade.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas is designating Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status for 18 months, until September 2022.

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“This will help about 320,000 Venezuelans across the U.S. about 200,000 of them in the state of Florida, so we will see a lot of families coming out of the shadows and being able to take full part of the American dream,” Samuel Vilchez Santiago, a Venezuelan activist in Orlando said. “The United States now becomes the second country to designate TPS for Venezuelans. The first one was Colombia. Venezuela is in the middle of social, political, and economic crisis that Latin America has basically never seen. We’re talking about a country where there’s no electricity for days, where there’s no medicine.”

Immigration attorney for Capella Immigration Law in Orlando, Camila Pachón Silva said Venezuelans who qualify should start applying now given that there’s a registration period of 180 days.

“TPS there’s a very limited window during which immigration or USCIS has to receive your application. So, for Venezuelan TPS immigration has to receive your application before Sept. 5 of this year,” Pachón Silva said. “They will be allowed to remain in the United States, they will be protected from deportation, they will get work authorization and a social security number. If the person has any type of criminal record, for example, if they have been convicted of a felony or have more than 2 significant misdemeanors they won’t qualify.”

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And they must prove they’ve been living in the U.S. as of March 8.

“If you were not in the United States yesterday you won’t be able to qualify,” Pachón Silva said.


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