Colombia said Monday it will register hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees currently in the country without papers, in a bid to provide them with legal residence permits and facilitate their access to health care and legal employment opportunities.
President Ivan Duque said that through a new temporary protection statute, Venezuelan migrants who are in the country illegally will be eligible for 10-year residence permits, while migrants who are currently on temporary residence will be able to extend their stay.
The new measure could benefit up to one million Venezuelan citizens who are currently living in Colombia without proper papers.
Colombia’s government said that Venezuelans who enter the country legally in the following two years will also be allowed to apply for temporary protection.
Approximately 1.8 million Venezuelans currently live in Colombia, which is home to more than a third of Venezuelan migrants and refugees. According to the United Nations, more than 5 million people have left Venezuela since 2015 to escape hyperinflation, food shortages and an increasingly authoritarian government.