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What is the difference between asylum and refugee status?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2022 | Immigration Law

Both asylum-seekers and refugees face persecution in their home countries, and they are forced to flee. This could be direct persecution because they’re part of a group, such as a specific religion or an ethnic group. They need to go to another country for their own safety, and they often take their families with them. 

While both of these individuals may start with a roughly similar set of circumstances, there are some differences between the two. It’s important to understand how they work. 

An asylum-seeker needs to come to the U.S. first 

Perhaps the biggest difference is location. If someone wants to become a refugee, they’ve likely already fled from their home country, and they can then try to get refugee status. If it is granted, they may be placed in another country where they’ll be safe, and then they travel to that country. 

If they are an asylum seeker, however, that needs to be done in the United States. Many of these individuals have already entered the United States, perhaps while undocumented, and then they seek asylum once they are over the border. Others arrive at a port of entry and seek asylum status there. Either way, this is the status that is granted to someone who will immediately enter, rather than waiting in a refugee camp and then being placed in the country at a later date. 

If you and your family have been experiencing persecution and you’re attempting to immigrate to the United States in either one of these ways, it is very important to understand exactly what legal steps to