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How is seeking asylum different than being a refugee?

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2022 | Immigration Law

Asylum seekers and refugees do have a lot in common. In both cases, they’re likely trying to flee some type of persecution at home. This could be political in nature, it could be religious, it could be based on ethnic classes or something else of this nature.

But the underlying theme is simply that this individual is not safe in their country. They want to move to another country where they can have protection and live a good life. But there are some big differences in the ways that they do this.

Seeking protection in that country

An asylum-seeker is someone who is already fled to another country. They may have entered that country already and be living within it. They may simply be at a Port of Entry. They are not a refugee and they do not have any sort of status, but they are applying for asylum because they want that legal protection. They want to be allowed to stay in the country.

In this sense, they’re using asylum as a way to keep from being deported. If they were sent back home, they fear for their life and their safety due to human rights violations. If they’re granted asylum status, then they can stay in the United States.

Entering a refugee camp

Refugees, on the other hand, have also left their country, but they have not arrived in the country where they want to seek protection. Instead, they have likely entered a refugee camp and been given international status as a refugee. It is still unsafe for them to return home, but their goal is not to continue living in the camp.

As such, refugees will then be placed at various locations within the United States. The government is in charge of screening these individuals and sending them to destination cities. So both a refugee and an asylum seeker may be trying to end up in the U.S. for protection, but they are going about it in different ways.

If you are in either one of these situations, it’s very important for you to understand your legal options and the steps you need to take.