Refugees and asylum seekers are people who have fled their home countries in pursuit of safety and security.
They have reasonable fear that if they were to stay in their home countries, they would be persecuted for their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or their inclusion in a particular social group. How they aim to secure their safety is one of the most significant differences between refugees and asylum seekers. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2019 there were 25.9 million refugees, and 3.5 million asylum seekers. On average, 37,000 people are forced to flee their homes because of danger per day.
Refugees move to secure their safety through a lengthy resettlement process—often as a last resort. In order to be resettled, UNHCR works with international non-profits and their domestic counterparts, a myriad of government agencies, and finally local partners who will steward refugees into their new communities. Every host-country has different mechanisms for resettlement. Refugees are the most vetted and one of the most vulnerable immigrant groups.
Whereas refugees seek to secure their safety by being resettled in a third country, asylum seekers ask for protection directly from within the country, or border of the country, where they hope to remain. Some asylum seekers may ultimately be processed as refugees. The United States has two recognized processes for reviewing asylum claims—Affirmative and Defensive Asylum.
Learn the steps individuals must navigate to be resettled as a refugee in the United States.See the process
Learn the steps individuals must navigate in order to become an asylee in the United States.See the process