Can a Venezuelan Get TPS After Living in Colombia or Another Country?

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Years after the Biden Harris administration initially granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to them in March 2021, I still hear Venezuelans claim that they cannot get TPS because they lived in Colombia before coming to the United States. Or they claim they cannot get TPS because they are citizens of a second country, like Spain or Italy.

Bunk. Getting a temporary safe haven elsewhere does not prohibit Temporary Protected Status. TPS has strict deadlines, however, so if you are a citizen of a TPS country (Venezuela, Haiti), please read and share this blog post today on social media. The more people helped, the merrier.

Can I Get TPS Even if I Can’t Get Asylum?

TPS can be granted to dual citizens and those who have lived in a third country UNLESS they firmly resettled, which is a legal term at INA § 208(b)(2)(A) (Immigration and Nationality Act). Resettlement ONLY can happen in one of three ways:

  • Getting indefinite lawful status in a second country through which the applicant transited “prior to arriving in the United States”
  • Presence in a country of second citizenship “after departing” the home country and “prior to arrival in the United States”
  • Living physically in a second country for one year or more AFTER departing the home country and before arriving in the US

Can I Get TPS with Second Citizenship?

Even though the first two exceptions apply to persons who have a second citizenship, that does not mean TPS is denied to all dual nationals. Blandon Law Clients have TPS even though they are citizens of Venezuela / Italy, Venezuela / Spain and Venezuela / Colombia.

The magic is in the words “prior to arriving in the United States.” If a client obtained second citizenship through a grandparent, for example, and they never set foot in that second country, TPS will be granted. Likewise, if the client did not set foot in that second country before entering the United States, TPS will also be granted. As an example, if a Venezuelan citizen has Colombian citizenship or residency, but – after living in Colombia – they returned to live in Venezuela and then transited through Panama to arrive in the United States, they will get TPS because “prior to arriving in the United States” they were in Panama, not Colombia.

The words “prior to arriving in the United States” would be meaningless (and redundant) if they were interpreted to mean ALL the countries that the applicant ever traveled to in their lifetime. Law is interpreted so that it makes sense. So, that phrase means the ONE country that the applicant traveled to before coming to the United States. If the applicant is not a dual citizen or indefinite legal resident of that country

Can I Get TPS Though I Lived in Another Country?

The same is true about the third exception to TPS. An applicant will get the work and international travel permits of Temporary Protected Status unless they lived physically in a second country for one year or more AFTER departing the home country and before arriving in the United States.

This exception contains two questions: What was the country the applicant traveled to right before coming to the United States? For how long did they live there? Let us suppose that a Venezuelan left their home country and lived in Panama, coming to the U.S. directly from Panama. They can still get TPS. The question is, did they live in Panama for 364 days or less? If yes, go directly to TPS. It will be approved. And if they lived in Panama for 365 days or more? Well, so long as they visit another country, like Mexico, before coming to the United States, they still get TPS.  This is because they did not live in Mexico for a year or more prior to arriving in the U.S.

As you can see, TPS is not so easy. An experienced TPS and asylum immigration lawyer is an enormous benefit. It could make a world of difference for yourself and your future US-born descendants. Contact us to schedule a consultation for TPS or other immigration benefit.

Disclaimer – These entries are based on real life events. Family member names, when used, are real. Client names are changed for privacy.

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