Immigrant, Refugee, Asylum Seeker What’s the Difference?

What is an immigrant?

An immigrant is any individual who comes to live permanently in another country. This includes individuals who come to reunite with a family member, individuals fleeing persecution, or an individual coming to work.

What is a refugee?

A refugee is any person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or a natural disaster. As a legal term in the US, refugee refers to one of these persons (described above) who has been given refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) before entering the US.

What is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who has been forced to leave their country who is directly seeking legal status in the US rather than abroad. In order to obtain this status, they must go to a US court and claim asylum. Once they are granted asylum, they have an equivalent legal status to a refugee and are eligible for the same benefits.

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