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How asylum seekers and refugees differ

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2024 | immigration |

In many ways, asylum seekers and refugees are similar. Generally, both groups are facing some type of persecution at home. For instance, they could be persecuted due to the ethnic group that they’re part of or their local religion. They have to leave their home because they are seeking safety somewhere else.

However, there are also some significant differences between these two statuses. It’s important to know how they work.

Refugee camps

When someone is a refugee, they typically leave their home region or town and travel to a refugee camp. This may be in a different part of their home country or another country altogether. This is a temporary shelter where they’re provided with humanitarian aid. They then obtain refugee status, and they will be assigned to a specific location – such as being sent to a city within the United States. They enter as a refugee and go through the settlement process. This can take years or even decades. 

Ports of entry

Asylum seekers, on the other hand, do not spend time in camps. They apply for asylum at a port of entry or once they are already within the United States. Asylum is often used when it is an urgent situation. The person has a realistic fear of persecution or even death if they return home, but they haven’t gotten refugee status, which can take time. Asylum gives them a way to seek protection so that they and their family do not come to harm while starting a new life in a different country.

There are many different intricacies to immigration law and the various statuses that people can use. Those who are interested in immigrating to the United States need to be well aware of all the options at their disposal and the steps they need to take.