Biden Speeds Up & Expands Work Authorization

DHS redesignates Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans and extends TPS to others not enrolled, thereby increasing the number of work eligible immigrants.

On September 20, the Department of Homeland Security announced the extension and redesignation of Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months for individuals that were residing in the United States on or before July 31, 2023. TPS provides temporary protection from removal, as well as employment authorization for eligible Venezuelan nationals.  

There are currently approximately 242,700 TPS beneficiaries under Venezuela’s existing TPS designation. There are an additional approximately 472,000 nationals of Venezuela who may be eligible under the redesignation of Venezuela.

Before employers can hire these new TPS beneficiaries, the beneficiaries must file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to receive an Employment Authorization Document. Employers will need this document, among other things, to complete the I-9 process to utilize newly work authorized TPS beneficiaries.

DHS also announced a new initiative to reduce the average wait time for work authorization by dedicating more resources beginning October 1. The change is expected to bring the processing time of applications down from 90 days to 30 days on average.

Unfortunately, only Congress can change the law to eliminate a 180-day waiting period for asylum seekers to gain work authorization. AGC has long called for immigration reform that addresses workforce needs and the announcement this week is a logical step to reduce processing delays beyond the statutorily required waiting period.

AGC will continue to advocate for additional reform because, as it stands, there are over 100,000 construction workers with TPS and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) work authorizations that face legal uncertainty. AGC continues to press for immigration visa reform in Congress and via regulatory improvements that will help address the construction industry’s ongoing workforce needs.

For more information, contact Jim Young at [email protected] and/or Claiborne Guy at [email protected]

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