On March 1, Colombian President Iván Duque signed a decree to provide a Temporary Protection Permit (PPT) to Venezuelans in the country, which will offer a formal immigration status to 1.7 million Venezuelans living in the country. This is an important gesture, as an estimated 54 percent of Venezuelans in Colombia lack regular status, which in turn limits their access to work authorization, formal employment, and health care services.

While the draft decree was announced to great acclaim in February, the signing of the measure (see full text here) makes it final. It also clarifies some of the decree’s limitations. First, it only applies to those Venezuelans who entered the country before January 31—meaning future arrivals will not qualify. The decree also only applies to Venezuelans, not immigrants from other countries, and will only be valid for ten years. This makes it unclear what will happen to Venezuelans who are unable to obtain and present the necessary documents by 2031. 

For more on the fine print in Colombia’s announcement, see the most recent episode of WOLA’s The Venezuela Briefing podcast, featuring WOLA Colombia Director Gimena Sanchez and Lucia Ramirez of Colombian human rights organization Dejusticia. With these considerations in mind, Dejusticia led a letter (signed by WOLA and other NGOs) with several specific recommendations for the Duque administration, including addressing persistent obstacles in access to asylum. 

Despite these limitations, the decree is the largest regularization push in the region to date. Countries like Peru, Ecuador, and Chile have restricted the entry of Venezuelan migrants recently, and President Duque has used the opportunity to call on his counterparts throughout the region to adopt similar policies to regularize Venezuelans en masse. In the wake of the announcement of this decree by the Colombian government, some sources have pointed to statistics documenting the potential economic benefit of offering regular status to Venezuelans, many of whom are highly educated and occupy fundamental sectors of the region’s workforce. 


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