Seeking asylum in the United States is one of the most drastic steps that people can take, from an immigration perspective. It is similar to being a refugee, but with key differences, and it is much different than immigrating to get a job, go to school or be with your family.
Both refugees and asylum seekers tend to leave their countries due to some sort of danger or upheaval. Perhaps they are being persecuted due to their religion or ethnic group, for instance. They do not feel safe in their home country and they need to leave to protect themselves and their families. Human rights violations are occurring and they have no other way to stay safe.
Refugees tend to leave their home countries and live in refugee camps in nearby countries. After getting refugee status, they are then considered for placement in yet a third country. For instance, someone could live in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, which has one of the largest camps in the world, even though they are from Myanmar. They could then seek to come to the United States as a refugee.
An asylum seeker is also trying to leave those human rights violations behind, but they are already at the border of another country and seeking to enter immediately. They do not have refugee status, at least not yet, but traditional immigration may take too long or be impossible. They need protection and a safe haven as soon as they can get it.
Those who find themselves in these desperate situations definitely need to know what rights they have, what steps to take and what options there are for entering the U.S.