If you are fleeing your home country because it is no longer safe, you may qualify for asylum in the United States. Our immigration lawyers at Pearson Butler are here to help break down what asylum is, what its requirements are, and how it differs from refugee status.
What Is Asylum?
Asylum is a type of protection granted to individuals who have fled their home countries and cannot return out of a well-founded fear of persecution based on their nationality, race, religion, political opinion/standing, and/or membership to a social group. These are known as the “five protected grounds.”
As The UN Refugee Agency puts it, asylum seekers apply for this protection to avoid deportation to a country that is no longer safe for them. An asylum seeker is, therefore, a refugee who has already made it to the United States. If they are granted asylum, if they become “asylees,” then they have a legal right to stay in the U.S. indefinitely.
What Is the Legal Definition of Persecution?
It is important to note what persecution is in legal terms.
“Persecution can be harm or threats of harm to you or your family or to people similar to you,” The UN Refugee Agency explains. “A person can also obtain asylum if he or she has suffered persecution in his or her country in the past.”
Refugee vs. Asylum Seeker
A refugee is similar to an asylum seeker. These terms both center around the aforementioned five protected grounds, which are also laid out in the 1967 Protocol.
The main difference between the refugee and asylee status is where you are when you apply for protection from the federal government. If you are residing outside the U.S. when you apply, you will be considered a refugee; if you are already residing in the United States or are already at one of its ports of entry, you will be considered an asylum seeker.
Thus, although “refugee” and “asylum seeker” are often used interchangeably, they are two separate statuses. Asylum seekers will not be granted refugee status, and vice versa.
If you believe you qualify for asylum or refugee status, reach out to our immigration lawyers at Pearson Butler. We are proud to help individuals in Utah, across the country, and even worldwide. Call (800) 265-2314 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation—no strings attached!