Trump administration officials are preparing to announce the first visa issuance of Venezuelan citizens, a move that could be seen as an effort to ease tensions between the two nations, analysts said.
The announcement is expected at a Friday news conference with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
The move comes as Trump’s administration ramps up its crackdown on the country, which has been rocked by protests and shortages of basic necessities in the face of a crippling economic crisis.
The new visa issuance would bring to nearly 1 million Venezuelans the number of Venezuelan residents who have applied for citizenship, according to the Venezuelan government.
Trump’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The United States has long issued visas for Venezuelans who have visited the United States to work, travel, study or have been to the U.S. on tourist visas.
However, that has not been a routine practice.
Before the Venezuelan revolution in 1989, the State Department issued only about 2,000 visas annually for Venezuelan nationals.
Since then, more than 8,000 Venezuelan citizens have applied to gain U.N. status, according the State Dept.
Venezuelan citizens would be eligible for visas for a total of four years if they meet other criteria.
“We have been talking to the State Departments office of consular affairs and consular services about the possibility of granting visas to Venezuelan citizens for the foreseeable future,” the State Secretary of State, Jeannette Sale, told reporters on Thursday.
The State Department has not announced whether it plans to issue a new batch of visas for Venezuela.
The Trump administration is also considering issuing visas to U.K. citizens who have lived in Venezuela for years and are still citizens.
Venezuela has long been a source of controversy for the Trump campaign, with Trump claiming that Venezuela “has a problem with drugs and gangsters” and claiming that Maduro was a “killer.”
Trump has accused the Venezuelan president of destabilizing the country by cracking down on protesters and violent opposition leaders.
The Maduro government has repeatedly dismissed Trump’s claims and has repeatedly accused Trump of attempting to destabilize the country.
Trump has also accused Venezuela of exporting drugs and weapons to Latin America, including the U:U.S., which has long struggled to control the trade and illicit drug trade.