Immigration Options other than Asylum

In addition to asylum, you may be able to apply for one or more of the following forms of immigration relief. If you are not sure whether you should apply for any of these, you may wish to find legal help.

Scroll down or click on the links below to read information from the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP).

Withholding of Removal and Protection Under the Convention Against Torture (CAT)

Like asylum, withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) are forms of protection against deportation for people who are afraid to return to their countries of origin.

Benefits: 

Even if you are not eligible for asylum, you may still qualify for withholding of removal or protection under CAT. For example, people who have previous deportation orders generally cannot apply for asylum, but they can apply for withholding of removal and protection under CAT. Also, you usually have to apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States (with some exceptions). But even after one year has passed, you can still apply for withholding of removal and protection under CAT.

If you win withholding of removal or protection under CAT, you cannot be deported. You can also get a work permit if you win.

Difficulties:  

Withholding of removal and protection under CAT are harder to win than asylum and they have fewer benefits. If you win withholding of removal or protection under CAT, unlike asylum, it will not lead to permanent residency (also known as a green card). Additionally, your family cannot be included in your withholding of removal or CAT case. They have to apply separately.

How to Apply: 

Please note: you can only apply for withholding of removal and CAT in immigration court. If you have a case in immigration court, you can apply for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under CAT at the same time. There is generally no disadvantage to applying for all three at once. You can apply using the application for asylum, Form I-589. Make sure to check the box at the top of the first page of Form I-589, which says “Check this box if you also want to apply for withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture.”

If you are applying for asylum with USCIS, you can still check the box on Form I-589. If USCIS does not grant you asylum and they start an immigration court case against you, the immigration judge can decide on all three forms of relief at the same time.

For more information about withholding of removal and protection under CAT, please read this guide and Section III of this guide.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from specific countries

TPS is a temporary immigration status provided to individuals from specific countries that are experiencing problems such as war or natural disasters. If you receive TPS, you cannot be deported from the United States while TPS is valid, you can apply for a work permit, and you can apply for permission to travel outside of the United States and then return. However, TPS does not lead to permanent residence (green card).

You may be able to apply for both asylum and TPS at the same time. Read more about TPS here.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) for children abandoned, abused, or neglected by a parent

SIJS is a form of immigration relief for minors under the age of 21 who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents. This determination is made by the state court where you live, and some states limit it to children under the age of 18, so it is very important that you speak to an attorney before your 18th birthday to see if you qualify for this relief.

After the state court has made this determination, you can submit your SIJS petition to USCIS. If USCIS grants SIJS, you may be eligible for permanent residency (green card). Depending on the country you are from, you may have to wait for a while before you can receive your green card.

For more information, you can read a guide for attorneys about SIJS. If you are under the age of 18, read this page for more information about legal resources.

U-Visas for survivors of crime

A U-Visa is a form of immigration relief for victims of a serious crime in the United States who help law enforcement officers investigate or prosecute that crime. If you receive a U-Visa, you will generally be protected from deportation, you may be able to bring some of your family members to the United States, and you can apply to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) after three years. You may be able to apply for both asylum and U-visa at the same time.

Find more information about U-Visas here.

T-Visas for survivors of trafficking

A T-Visa is a form of immigration relief for victims of human trafficking. Human trafficking can include being forced to work or to provide sexual services. If you receive a T-Visa, you will generally be protected from deportation, you may be able to bring some of your family members to the United States, and you can apply to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) after three years. For more information about applying for a T-Visa, please read this guide. You may be able to apply for both asylum and T-visa at the same time.

Find more information about T-Visas here

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for survivors of abuse

VAWA provides forms of immigration relief for an abused spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder). Abuse can include physical violence  or other extreme cruelty, including emotional and sexual abuse. VAWA allows these survivors to petition for themselves without the help of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. This is known as a “VAWA self-petition.” For more information about VAWA self-petitions, you can read this guide about gathering the documents for a petition or this guide for attorneys.

If you have an immigration court case, VAWA allows certain people to ask an immigration judge to “cancel” their deportation so they can stay in the United States. For more information about canceling your deportation under VAWA, please read this guide.

You may be able to apply for both asylum and relief under VAWA at the same time. 

Cancellation of Removal for undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years

Some people without immigration status who have lived in the United States for more than ten years can ask an immigration judge to cancel their deportation so they can stay in the United States, but only if they have a parent, spouse, or child who is a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) and their deportation would cause this parent, spouse, or child “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.” Unfortunately, this is a very high standard, and it is difficult to meet.

For more information about ten-year cancellation of removal, please read this guide.

Family Petitions

U.S. citizens can petition for visas for their spouses, children, parents, or siblings who are abroad. Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) can also petition for visas for their spouses or unmarried children who are abroad. In addition, some close relatives of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents may be eligible to “adjust status” to become Lawful Permanent Residents even if they are already in the United States. This can be a complicated process if you entered the U.S. without permission or if you have a removal order.

For more information about family visa petitions, you can read this information from the United States government. For more information about adjustment of status, please read this guide.

Note: This page is for adults who are interested in seeking asylum in the United States. Our hope is that you will use the information to better understand the asylum process and take control of your case. However, this information is not a substitute for legal advice about your particular case. To look for legal assistance, visit ASAP’s find help page

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