More than 2.8 million Venezuelans live in Colombia, according to an official report from the Colombian government. However, between June and August of 2023, the flow of migrants from the neighboring country decreased slightly. Migration Colombia reported in a statement that the number of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia “decreased from 2,888,505 in June 2023 to 2,875,743 in August 2023, representing a 0.4% decrease.”
Colombia remains the main recipient country of the Venezuelan diaspora, estimated at 7.7 million nationals who have left their homeland in search of better living conditions. After Colombia, Peru is the second-largest host country with 1.5 million migrants, followed by Brazil with 502,000 and Ecuador with 438,000 Venezuelans, according to UNHCR.
Irregular situation for many Venezuelans in Colombia
According to the figures released by the Colombian government, of the total Venezuelan residents, a very small number, 65,000, entered the country legally through a border crossing. The vast majority entered Colombia irregularly and remain in an illegal situation.
In an attempt to integrate these migrants, in 2021, President Duque’s government created the Temporary Statute for Venezuelan Persons (ETPV), granting them a Temporary Protection Permit (PTT), which allows access to public goods and services such as health and education or opening bank accounts. This type of residence offers a 10-year period for the foreigner to obtain a resident visa.
In this regard, of the total Venezuelan migrants, 2,306,810 have the PPT or are in the process of obtaining it. Of these, 1,890,185 have already been authorized the document, and 416,625 are still in the process of authorization for their PPT.
With this data, the Colombian migration service estimates that there are 503,682 Venezuelan migrants “in an irregular situation” in Colombia. The circumstances vary: some because they exhausted their legal stay time in the country, others because they entered Colombia without authorization and have not obtained the PTT.
The future of Venezuelan migration in Colombia
The future of the Venezuelan population living in Colombia is complex. Most would find it difficult to return to their country of origin, either due to ties in Colombia or because living conditions in Venezuela may not improve.
Recently, the U.S. temporarily lifted sanctions on Nicolas Maduro’s government, allowing the export of oil, gas, and gold from the country. However, the challenging electoral scenario looming for the coming year could reverse this suspension and return foreign pressure to the country.
In this regard, the annulment of opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado by the Venezuelan justice system has already put the international community on alert, especially the U.S., which demands a democratic and transparent presidential election to continue with the lifting of sanctions.