The International Response to the Venezuelan Exodus: New Measures

While the number of Venezuelans seeking refuge keeps growing, which countries are receiving them, and under what conditions?

Photo:  AP / Miami Herald retrieved

The United Nations announced in June that the Venezuelan exodus has reached an estimate of 4 million people. Different countries have allowed the entrance of Venezuelans with expired passports and provided them with temporary residency, but others have imposed new measures to control immigration across their borders. Here’s a brief map of possibilities and barriers: 


As the first destination of Venezuelans seeking refuge, Colombia has continuously evaluated measures that will give legal residence to the 1.3 million Venezuelans in the country. In March, the Colombian government started to accept expired passports for two years as a valid form of identification. Since 2017, the government has been issuing a Special Permission of Permanency (PEP) that allows immigrants already living in Colombia to reside, work and receive public services legally for two years, with the opportunity to renew it.


Unlike Colombia, Peru has greater restrictions for Venezuelans trying to live there. Starting on June 15th, Peru requires Venezuelans to have a humanitarian visa and criminal records along with a passport for entry. The visa allows Venezuelans to work and reside in Peru but can only be requested at the Peruvian consulates in Caracas, Puerto Ordaz and cities of Colombia and Ecuador.

Before October, 2018, Venezuelans could enter Peru without a passport or visa. The Peruvian government started to require passports last year and is now adding the visa requirement in an effort to further organize and control the massive Venezuelan immigration, which reached 800,000 people in the past two years.


Brazil has received “more than 200,000” Venezuelans since 2017, according to the United Nations, many of them have crossed the border on foot. The Brazilian government has worked with the organization to give residence and work permits to those seeking asylum or refuge and, last June, Brazil also accepted Guaidó’s extension of the Venezuelan passport, as a form of identification for Venezuelans currently living in Brazil.


The Ecuadorian government announced on June 7th that it was considering making available a humanitarian visa for Venezuelans, similar to that of Peru. The country has required criminal records along with passports to enter the country since January, 2019, but the visa would give Venezuelans the legal documentation to enter and temporarily reside in Ecuador. 


Like Peru, Chile has adopted more restrictive measures to control the influx of Venezuelans into its territory. The Chilean government introduced on June 22nd the requirement of a tourist visa (VCT) that allows immigrants to reside in the country for 90 days, in which they can seek a “visa of democratic responsibility” (VRD) to extend their stay for one year. The VCT costs $50, can be requested online, and must be picked up at a Chilean consulate before entering Chile. 

This new measure had a quick effect on Venezuelans crossing the border between Chile and Peru in June; El Universo reported that 200 immigrants waited “in limbo” for a week, enduring extremely cold temperatures without being able to move forward or back, since both countries now require visas for entry.


Argentina is another country with flexible measures for Venezuelan immigrants: in February, the government announced that it would allow the entrance of Venezuelans with an expired passport, as long as the expiration date doesn’t exceed two years. They can then request a Mercosur visa or residence that allows them to temporarily stay, work and receive public healthcare and education in the country. 

United States of America

The U.S. was one of the first countries to recognize Guaidó’s five-year extension of Venezuelan passports, meaning that Venezuelans can enter the country with expired passports as a form of identification, although the U.S. State Department clarified that the requirement to enter the country with a valid visa remains.

Meanwhile, Venezuelans already living in America can use the passports as a valid document while they wait for a decision on their asylum cases or on the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which would give them work authorization and protected stay.


Canada also recognized the passport extension, adding the possibility for Venezuelans to extend their temporary stay in the country with expired or about-to-expire passports. By requesting a temporary residence permit, Venezuelans can use their passports to renew work permits as well as student and tourist visas. 


Spain was the second country to recognize Guaidó’s five-year extension of passports in June, 2019. But, as El Pitazo explains, Spain has been accepting expired passports since March 15th, including passports of Venezuelans already living in the country. The extension allows them to request authorization at the consulate, but not entering the country.

Since February, 2019, the Spanish government has also granted protection to Venezuelans whose asylum applications were denied from 2014 to 2019. The measure provides them with a one-year, extendable residence and work authorization.

Trinidad and Tobago

The twin islands close to the Venezuelan Eastern coast have also imposed measures to help Venezuelans acquire legal status while controlling immigration. According to Global Voices, the government gave Venezuelan asylum-seekers two weeks, from May 31st to June 14th, to register for legal recognition and the possibility of working for a year. Global Voices also reports that, starting on June 17th, Venezuelans need a visa to enter the country.

Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire

Venezuelans have started to seek refuge using an alternative to walking through Latin America: the Caribbean islands. The journeys are dangerous and unpredictable and, according to National Public Radio, authorities in these islands are “scrutinizing Venezuelans who enter legally and expelling those who overstay their travel permits.”