Understanding the difference between refugee status and asylum

The difference between refugee status and asylum is mostly procedural. An asylee is a person that requests asylum in the United States. A refugee is a person that seeks protection while overseas and then given permission to enter the United States as a refugee.

Anyway, there’s always a likely source of confusion in this area. To obtain their status, both asylees, and refugees must prove the same thing – that they qualify for the protection under the United States law. In this article, we’ll try to explain some major differences between these two terms, and you can contact the Chicago immigration attorney for any additional information.

Who are refugees? 

In the United States, both of these terms refer to people that are fleeing their home countries and are unwilling or unable to return because of fear of persecution because of their nationality, race, political opinion, religion, or membership in a particular social group. The major difference is where has the individual’s claim for international protection been decided.  Refugees are the people whose plight is recognized legally outside the US first. They generally wait for recognition in refugee camps around the world. The United Nations will determine whether they qualify as refugees and also where they will be placed. 

These individuals can resettle in the US without many other processes within the country because of this protected status, they are legally determined as such before entering the United States. 

Who is are the asylum seekers?

Asylum seekers are the individuals that seek refugee status at the United States border or when they are within the country. These people are seeking protection from going back to their homes. They are entering the US unsure if they will be able to stay. 

Asylees haven’t attained the international refugee status so they have to go through a legal process in the United States to determine if they can qualify and remain in the country. 

The difference between these two terms is pretty much about geography and the agency that determines who qualifies for protection. 

It’s getting difficult for both Refugees and Asylees

The process of gaining protection has become very difficult over the past few years for both refugees and asylees. Refugee limits are capped at record lows by President Donald Trump’s administration, and the asylees are subject to the increasingly treacherous conditions as they are waiting for the answer whether they can stay or not. A huge number of people seeking asylum at the southern border of the United States must remain in Mexico during their immigration proceedings. 

Since 2014, the United States has increased the detention for immigrant families, primarily in for-profit detention centers. These detention centers have increasingly become filled to capacity so that the asylees are typically housed in prisons. 

Getting status won’t fix all problems 

When being granted the legal protections, either as a refugee or asylee there are so many other issues that might continue to concern them. 

After fleeing injustice or violence they faced in their home countries, asylees and refugees may be subject to prejudice or xenophobia as they seek out some new places to call home in the United States. Besides, many refugees and asylum seekers continue to fear for the safety of their family and friends that remain in their home countries. 

Why You Should Know These Terms?

While these two terms carry some strong similarities, it would be great to educate yourself on the nuances of the immigration issues. It’s very important to stay informed about what is going on and the forces that are shaping the individual’s needs to flee their home countries are essential.


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