On Monday, March 8, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, extending temporary regular status and the ability to apply for work authorization to over 300,000 Venezuelans living in the United States. The TPS designation follows years of advocacy efforts calling for its implementation, stymied by partisan disagreements in the Senate and subsequent inaction by the Trump administration. The protected status for Venezuelan immigrants will last for a period of 18 months until September 2022, at which time it may be renewed depending on DHS’s assessment of in-country conditions.

As laid out in this analysis, TPS shares many benefits in common with the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) that former President Donald Trump announced in his last day in office, but advocates of TPS argue that it goes even further. Unlike DED, TPS is a temporary legal status rather than a temporary stay on deportation. TPS also has more basis in legal statute, is proven to be more durable across administrations, and is more framed as a humanitarian benefit. 

The U.S. TPS designation is also significant when considering the regional context. The move from the Biden administration comes just one week after Colombian President Ivan Duque signed a decree providing a temporary regular status to Venezuelans in the country for a period of 10 years, so long as they participate in a registration process, during which they can obtain work authorization. This is an important announcement that, if implemented fully, could benefit the 54% of Venezuelans in Colombia that lack regular status. It remains to be seen whether measures to provide temporary status to Venezuelans in Colombia and the United States are the beginning of a broader regional trend to extend humanitarian protections to Venezuelan migrants and refugees.


International Community

  • Last week, the U.K.’s Foreign Ministry denounced the Maduro government’s decision to expel EU Ambassador to Venezuela Isabel Brilhante as “unjustifiable and profoundly regrettable.” The International Contact Group on Venezuela similarly issued a statement rejecting the move as “contrary to the dialogue and respect that should prevail in international relations.” The declarations are the latest in the ongoing spar between the Maduro government and the EU after the EU issued a series of sanctions on top Maduro officials in late February.
  • After it was announced that the U.S. would enact TPS for Venezuela, senior White House officials held a private press briefing in which they clarified the terms of the measure and what it signifies for U.S. policy on Venezuela moving forward. The officials expressed their support for a democratic and negotiated solution and stated that the U.S. is in “no rush” to lift sanctions on Venezuela, though they admitted to reviewing the unilateral U.S. sanctions so far since they “have not succeeded in achieving an electoral outcome in the country.”
  • On March 9, following the U.S.’s TPS designation for Venezuela, former Special Envoy for Venezuela under the Trump administration Elliott Abrams published an op-ed in the Council on Foreign Relations blog reacting to the announcement. Abrams expressed his support for the TPS designation but criticized the Biden administration for its claims that the U.S. under the Trump administration failed to engage with the international community.
  • This week, Juan Guaidó and other members of the opposition coalition held a virtual meeting with Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde to discuss the political and humanitarian situation in Venezuela. The Guaidó readout suggests that the two agreed to work jointly to achieve free and fair elections in the country, and to denounce the ongoing persecution of political opponents of Maduro.


Human Rights


  • After having been spared the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, COVID cases and hospitalizations appear to be rapidly rising in Venezuela after the carnaval holiday. On Wednesday Venezuela recorded 475 new cases, bringing the total number of reported cases to 143,796 and deaths to 1,407. 
  • On March 6, a shipment of 100,000 second doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine arrived in Venezuela, a month after the first doses were sent. It is still unclear whether Russia will provide more vaccines in the future and on what timeline, despite Maduro’s claims to have purchased 10 million doses.