Tourist Visa to Asylum: Change of Status for Protection in the U.S.

The United States has long been a destination for individuals seeking refuge from persecution or fear of harm in their home countries. One of the pathways available for those already present in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, such as a tourist visa, is to apply for a status change to Asylum. In this blog, we will provide an overview of the process of changing your status from a tourist visa to Asylum in the United States.

An Asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals who demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 

To be eligible for a change of status from a tourist visa to Asylum, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Filing Within One Year: You must file your Asylum application within one year of your arrival in the United States unless you can establish exceptional circumstances that prevent you from filing on time.
  2. Well-Founded Fear: You must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution based on one of the five protected grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
  3. Nonimmigrant Status: You must maintain a valid nonimmigrant status in the U.S. at the time of your Asylum application. This includes being in lawful status on a tourist visa or any other nonimmigrant visa.

The Process of Changing Status from Tourist Visa to Asylum:

  1. Gather Documentation: Compile all the necessary documentation to support your Asylum claim. This may include personal statements, affidavits, country condition reports, news articles, medical records, or other evidence substantiating your fear of persecution. (Find out more: 10 Things You Should Know About Evidence for Asylum Case)
  2. Complete Form I-589: Fill out Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, carefully and accurately. Provide a detailed account of your circumstances and the reasons why you are seeking Asylum.
  3. File Your Application: Submit your completed Form I-589 and supporting documents to the appropriate USCIS office. Be sure to keep copies of all documents for your records.
  4. Biometrics Appointment: After receiving your application, USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment for you. Your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be taken at this appointment.
  5. Attend a Credible Fear Interview: USCIS will schedule an interview to evaluate your Asylum claim. Being well-prepared for this interview and thoroughly understanding the facts and evidence supporting your case is crucial. (Explore more: Credible Fear Screening Individuals Seeking Asylum | How to Prepare for Asylum Interview).
  6. Decision: Following the interview, USCIS will make a decision on your Asylum application. If your application is approved, you will be granted Asylum and can apply for a Green Card one year after your Asylum approval. (Recommended reading: Timelines for Asylum Decisions: What You Need to Know)
  7. Appeal or Removal Proceedings: If your application is denied, you can appeal the decision within a specific timeframe. Alternatively, you may be referred to immigration court for removal proceedings.

Seeking legal assistance from an experienced immigration attorney is crucial to maximizing your chances of success in changing your status from a tourist visa to Asylum. At I.S. Law Firm, we have a proven track record of helping thousands of clients obtain Asylum. Our knowledgeable team of attorneys will provide personalized guidance and representation tailored to your unique circumstances. If you or someone you know is considering applying for Asylum, we invite you to schedule a consultation by the link: Schedule a Consultation – I.S. Law Firm, PLLC.