Our Staff Is Fluent In Spanish and French. We Also Have Easy Access To Other Translators

The differences between refugees, asylum seekers and migrants

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Asylum |

People come to the United States for various reasons. While some arrive looking for a better quality of life, others are fleeing from their homes and seeking protection within our borders.

Many of us classify everyone coming to this country as an immigrant. However, there are different classifications with distinct legal meanings and implications.


A refugee is someone who has fled their home country due to well-founded fears of prosecution based on race, religion, nationality or political opinion. Refugees coming to the U.S. must first receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). These referrals typically come from U.S. Embassies or international organizations.

After their referral, individuals undergo a screening process that includes in-depth interviews, security checks and health screenings to determine if they are eligible for resettlement in this country. If approved, the refugee’s case will be matched with a volunteer agency within the U.S. that will assist them with housing, employment and integration within the community.

The whole process can take up to three years.

Asylum seeker

Asylum seekers also leave their home countries due to fear of prosecution and seek protection under international law. However, unlike refugees, their claims still need to be evaluated and approved.

To apply for asylum, an individual must be physically present in the United States and file an Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal within one year of their arrival. After the application is filed, the applicant will be interviewed by an asylum officer. If their claim is approved, the individual is granted asylum status.


The term ‘migrant’ refers to anyone who moves from one place of residence to a new place, usually to have a better life. This could include better employment opportunities, education or the opportunity to be reunited with family. Migrants consciously decide to move and can return home if they wish.

Each group is entitled to different levels of protection under international law. Asylum seekers and refugees are protected from being returned to their home country, where they may face threats to their lives.

Migrants are protected under international human rights law. However, they don’t have the same level of protection as refugees and asylum seekers. They are usually subject to U.S. immigration laws.

The immigration system is complicated. Therefore, working with someone who understands the process offers the best chance of entry to the United States.



RSS Feed