After the incident in his school, Tariq feared for his life; said he needed to get out of Pakistan. So he applied for and received a J1 visa, a cultural exchange program run by the US State Department. After the visa expires, J1 recipients are supposed to return to their home countries.
In 2015, Tariq took a plane from Karachi to Washington DC, and when his J1 program was up, he filed for asylum with a personal certainty and faith that it would be granted to him. The USCIS is supposed to schedule asylum interviews within 45 days, with a final decision within 180. But (as of April 2017), the wait time for the initial asylum interview is an estimated 2 to 5 years.
Until Tariq gets that interview, he’s in a state of limbo—legally allowed to stay in the United States, though unable to find good work or afford college.
Tariq moved to Seattle, where he met his fiancé, Catherine Adams. She hadn’t ever met a Muslim before, and she had a conservative, christian upbringing in rural Oregon. She'd only ever heard and seen negative stereotypes of men like Tariq before they met. But they fell in love quickly and are planning to get married late in the summer of 2017. They’ve since moved to Catherine's small hometown of Medford, Oregon.