Starting today, Venezuelan citizens and their immediate family members can be sponsored for parole via a new DHS entry process. To qualify, applicants must be outside the United States, be a citizen of Venezuela or the spouse, common law partner, or unmarried child of a Venezuelan citizen, have a U.S.-based sponsor, and undergo security vetting, along with several other criteria. U.S. sponsors initiate the process by filing a declaration of support with USCIS, certifying their commitment to provide financial and other support to named beneficiaries. Approved beneficiaries are eligible for parole into the United States and work authorization for up to two years.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has opened a process for Venezuelan citizens and certain immediate family members who are outside the United States to apply online for parole into the United States for a period of up to two years. The application process is detailed on the USCIS website, and permits eligible applicants to be sponsored for parole by an eligible U.S.-based sponsor. A Federal Register notice providing further details on the program will be published tomorrow; an advance copy of the notice is available.
Venezuelans and their family members approved via this process will be authorized to travel to the United States and be considered for parole, on a case-by-case basis, for a period of up to two years. Once paroled through this process, beneficiaries will be eligible to apply for work authorization.
Through the new process, U.S.-based individuals (or individuals representing an entity) can apply to sponsor eligible Venezuelan citizens and their immediate relatives who meet the following criteria:
- Are a Venezuelan citizen or an immediate family member (spouse, common-law partner, or unmarried child under the age of 21) accompanying an eligible Venezuelan;
- Are outside the United States;
- Possess a passport valid for international travel;
- Provide for their own commercial travel to a U.S. airport and final U.S. destination (entry at a land port of entry is not permitted);
- Undergo and clear required screening and vetting;
- Not be a permanent resident or dual national of any country other than Venezuela, and not currently hold refugee status in any country (except for accompanying immediate family members of eligible Venezuelan nationals);
- Not be an unaccompanied child (children under the age of 18 must be traveling to the United States in the care and custody of their parent or legal guardian);
- Not have been ordered removed from the United States within the past five years or be subject to a bar based on a prior removal order;
- Not have crossed irregularly into the United States, between ports of entry, after October 19, 2022;
- Not have unlawfully crossed the Mexican or Panamanian borders after October 19, 2022;
- Comply with all additional requirements, including vaccination requirements and other public health guidelines;
- Demonstrate that a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted.
Individuals who hold lawful U.S. immigration status or are parolees or beneficiaries of deferred action can serve as a sponsor under the new process for Venezuelan parole. This includes:
- U.S. citizens and nationals;
- U.S. lawful permanent residents;
- Nonimmigrants in lawful status;
- Holders of Temporary Protected Status;
- Beneficiaries of deferred action, including DACA beneficiaries; and
- Individuals holding Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
Sponsors can include individuals acting on behalf of an organization. Multiple sponsors can join together to support beneficiaries.
A U.S.-based sponsor must pass security and background vetting and demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support the sponsored beneficiary for the duration of the parole period.
Obligations of sponsorship
Individuals seeking to sponsor Venezuelan citizens under this program must complete USCIS Form I-134, the Declaration of Support online and provide detailed information about their income, employment, and assets. In signing Form I-134, sponsors commit to provide financial and other support to beneficiaries for the duration of the parole, or up to two years. This can include ensuring that the beneficiary has adequate housing and basic necessities; helping the beneficiary access benefits and services (such as obtaining employment authorization, a Social Security card, and education); helping the beneficiary obtain employment; and ensuring that the beneficiary’s health care and medical needs are met for the duration of the parole.
DHS has introduced this new parole process in order to reduce the number of Venezuelans attempting entry at the southwestern border in order to flee the humanitarian and economic crisis in Venezuela. The new process is modeled on the Uniting for Ukraine parole process, which was launched in April 2022.
The agency has stated that Venezuelans who attempt to enter the United States by crossing the Mexico-U.S. border between ports of entry will be returned to Mexico.
What this means for prospective sponsors and beneficiaries
Prospective beneficiaries and their sponsors should review the USCIS website for further detailed information on the Venezuelan parole application and screening process. DHS has not specified how long it will take to process these parole applications.