The country was surprised, when in early February 2021, the President of the Republic, Iván Duque, announced the modality now in course, known as Temporary Protection Permit or also known as PPT. Being the most shocking of the matter, the fact that those who were beneficiaries of this new permit, would have the possibility to stay in the Colombian territory legally for a term of 10 years, which in effect, caught the attention of the entire community, from those who saw this as a new opportunity to start over, as others who saw this decision by the Colombian government as a big mistake.
The aforementioned, materialized on March 1st with Decree 216 of 2021, which provided the possibility for migrants, both regular and irregular, to access this benefit for a period of 10 years, only having the possession of their identification document, regardless of whether it was current or expired. To this end, the Colombian government established the RUMV or Single Registry of Venezuelan Migrants, in order to create this database, as a mechanism for obtaining this benefit.
Benefit that would allow the Venezuelan citizen to access a PPT, which gives as a benefit, the right to be in legality within the country, as well as to enter into employment contracts without the need for a Visa for that purpose.
At that moment, everything pointed to the fact that it would be an expeditious procedure for the legalization of this community, especially because the platform turns out to be simple in terms of the information and documents requested. However, the number of Venezuelan citizens requesting this benefit is such, that, once the stage set for the allocation of appointments for the biometric data collection is reached, they point to dates as distant as, for example, the end of the first quarter of 2022. This creates a new problem, now, what will these citizens be able to do while waiting for their appointments and subsequent issuance of the PPT? Article 6, paragraph 2. of Decree 216 of 2021, indicates that those people registered in the RUMV in order to access the right to be able to schedule an appointment for the taking of
biometric data, will not obtain any benefits, powers or modifications in their immigration status, which is worrying because, even when a process that will allow them the respective legalization in the country is in progress, during that time, they are in a legal limbo in which they do not have the necessary status to be able to make the necessary documentation to be celebrated, call the RUMV to schedule an appointment for the taking of biometric data, which
will not allow them to obtain any benefit, powers or modifications in their immigration status, during this time, they are in a legal limbo in which they do not have the necessary status for the disposition of those rights that require the necessary documentation to be concluded, being it a lease contract, mobile services, a work contract, etc.
The most antagonistic aspect of the present matter is that the Colombian Government previously issued Decree 117 of 2020, which allowed companies to hire migrants through the issuance of the PEPFF or Special Permit of Permanence for the Promotion of Formalization, which allowed migrant citizens to acquire a legal status through a Permit that was valid for the duration of the employment contract; This, was an auxiliary mechanism while the worker was undergoing the respective legalization process within Colombian territory. Now, with the issuance of Decree 216 of 2021, it is only allowed to extend the PEP to those who previously had it in possession and validity or access to it for those who were in the process of it at the time of the issuance of this Decree. However, for the other cases, the government will not issue any more PEPFF, leaving in uncertainty those migrants who, even with this new procedure, are surprised to find that they
will be forced to wait almost a year until they can continue with their respective process.
This, ultimately results in several violations, not only to different articles of the Political Constitution of Colombia, but also to those contained in the American Convention on Human Rights, such as Articles: The Duty to Adopt Provisions of Domestic Law (Article 2), Family Protection (Article 17), Equality before the Law (Article 24) and Progressive Development of ESCR (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) (Article 26), inasmuch as, even with a legalization process
underway, these individuals remain deprived of the possibility of accessing several rights while their legal situation is being resolved; that is, even with the process for obtaining the PPT initiated, they remain at the same starting point.
However, there is the possibility that companies wishing to enter into an employment contract with Venezuelan nationals may submit their cases to the Ministry of Labour, so that it can resolve the specific situation. However, this does not obscure the clear case of vulnerability of this community.
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About the author:
Samuel Fuentes is a lawyer from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, is part of the legal team of Gestiones Empresariales López & James Colombia and specializes in the areas of Criminal Law, Human Rights and labor settlements.