What is the difference between refugees and asylum seekers?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2022 | Asylum

There are many reasons you may leave behind your home country. You may be in physical danger due to war or persecution. There may be very little economic opportunity at home or even famine. Or, you may just be ready for a change.

Your reason for migrating is personal and each has a unique process for when you are ready to enter the United States. Understanding the different applications for your immigration is key to making the process as smooth as possible.

Refugee status

If you flee persecution in your home country, you may try to enter the US as a refugee. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to qualify for refugee status you are either persecuted or fear persecution on account of:

  • race
  • religion
  • nationality, or
  • membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

This process begins before you enter the U.S. and usually requires a referral to grant refugee status from a government or an organization like the United Nations.

Seeking asylum

The main difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker is where you are when you apply for entry into the country. You must be at a port of entry or already in the US to apply for asylum. As long as you have a reasonable fear of returning to your home country, an asylum case is a good path to take to immigrate to the US.

No matter your reason for leaving, there are many paths you can take when coming to America.

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