Many people come to the United States to find a safe haven from conflict, war, famine or prosecution. Even though many confuse the two, asylum and refugee status are different legal terms.
Each of them has their own set of procedures.
Status depends on the physical location
A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their home country due to severe threats such as persecution, war, or violence. They typically cannot return home or are afraid to do so and have an international right to protection.
An asylum seeker is an individual who has left their home country and is seeking protection in the United States. They have applied for the right to be recognized as a refugee and to receive assistance.
The key difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee lies in where the claim for protection is made. Asylum seekers are already in the U.S. before they submit their claims. After receiving their asylum status, they have one year to apply for their Green Card.
Refugees usually receive their status before arriving and must apply for their Green Card within one year of coming.
Applying for asylum or refugee status in the United States is lengthy and complex. Refugees are referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program by the United Nations or the U.S. Embassy.
Since the asylum seeker is already in the country, they must submit an Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal.
Both groups must undergo interviews with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to determine their eligibility.
Due to the complexity of the process, it’s best to work with someone who can advocate for you and guide you through the specific steps.