The U.S. to Recognize Five-Year Extension of Venezuelan Passports
Venezuela’s opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaidó signed a decree on May 21, 2019 extending the validity of Venezuelan passports for five years beyond their expiration dates. On June 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of State announced its recognition of the decree and its acceptance of such passports for purposes of U.S. visa applications and entry into the U.S.
In general, visitors traveling to the United States are required to be in possession of passports that are valid for at least six months beyond the period of their intended stay in the United States. However, citizens of certain countries are exempt from the six-month rule and need only have a passport valid for their intended period of stay. This exception includes citizens of Venezuela.
However, as conditions in Venezuela have deteriorated, even maintaining a passport valid for one’s period of stay in the U.S. has been a significant challenge. In November 2017, the Venezuelan immigration service, SAIME, suspended the issuance of new passport books for lack of the proper paper and ink. As an interim solution, SAIME implemented a two-year extension option for holders of existing passport books by obtaining a stamp in their passport book. This solution, however, required the person to personally appear at an office within the country or at a Venezuelan consulate to obtain the stamp. As many Venezuelan consulates have shut down indefinitely, the ability of Venezuelans to obtain the stamp has been limited.
While interim President Guaidó’s decree is welcome news, many Venezuelans still face challenges. Of the more than 4 million Venezuelans who have fled the country in recent years, many have fled without a passport to extend, have lost their passports or have had their passports stolen. Still others have no blank passport book pages left with which to be stamped for travel. Foster LLP will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates via future Immigration Updates© and on our website at www.fosterglobal.com.