The difference between an Asylum-seeker and a Refugee

Asylum and refugee petitions are very similar from a legal perspective. In both forms of Immigration relief, the foreign alien will have to convince the authorities that they apply before, that they fit the legal definition of a “Refugee” as laid out in section 101(a)(42)(A) of the immigration and nationality act. That definition is the following:

any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

So basically, being a refugee is a requirement for both refugee and asylum relief, and it pretty much means that: you are a foreign alien who is outside of your home country or the country where you last lived (if you don’t have a home country), and you are unable or unwilling to return to that county because of harm you faced, or the fear of future harm because of something that you either: cannot change about yourself, or something you fundamentally should not have to change.

There are lots of reasons you might not be able to go back to your home or last country of residence, and there are also lots of potential reasons for why you were harmed or why you could fear you will be harmed–if you forced to go back. Many of these reasons could qualify you for asylum or refugee relief. If any of this does not sound familiar to you, you should read our article, Who is eligible for Asylum? , before proceeding to read this and other articles. If you have already read that article, then you already have some idea of the main difference between an Asylum and Refugee petition. AND THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ASYLUM AND REFUGEE PETITIONS IS THAT:

To apply for asylum you have to be physically present in the United States, BUT TO APPLY FOR RELIEF AS A REFUGEE, YOU HAVE TO APPLY FROM OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES.

In addition to this difference, sadly there are some other barriers to people applying as refugees. The procedure is difficult and complicated. Refugee resettlement is very much an international effort between many different nations, and there is no guarantee that you will ever find yourself resettled via a refugee program in the country that you desire to live in. The only way to potentially get into the United States Refugee Admissions program is by receiving a referral. If you get such a referral, then you will get the opportunity to fill out your refugee application before having an interview with a USCIS officer abroad to determine your eligibility.

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The easiest way (still very difficult) to get a referral is by getting connected with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the country that you fled to–the country you ran to in order to escape the harm of your home country, or last country of residence. This is a good idea for any refugee in general, as once you get connected with the UNHCR, they can help you to determine what types of refugee benefits you are potentially eligible for, as well as what countries’ refugee resettlement programs might be a good fit for you based on: acceptance rates and patterns, your skills, and your eligibility under international and national laws. You sadly may not ever get to the United States as a refugee, but maybe some other wonderful nation is standing by to greet you with open arms and a new home. To get this process started:

You must register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country that you fled to to escape the harm from your home country; or country of last residence.

It can sometimes be hard to find the UNHCR if you are away from their refugee camps and resettlement activities. One suggestion we have is that you try going to this link:

http://www.unhcr.org/afr/contact-us.html

On this page they have a drop down menu for every possible country, with contact information for representatives in every country. They provide addresses to UNHCR offices, telephone numbers, emails, and more. This would be a good bet if you fled to a country and do not know how to proceed. We sincerely hope this article and the provided link will prove helpful to you!

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!

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