Asylee and Refugee: Differences in Procedures and Applications

Foreigners who have escaped persecution and sought protection in the U.S. are generally called either “asylees” or “refugees” Is there any difference between an asylum seeker and refugee. Yes, there is a slight difference but there is a bit of overlap between the two statuses.

Knowing the difference between an Asylee and Refugee is extensively procedural. An individual who petitions for asylum in the United States is called an asylee. A foreigner who requests for protection while abroad, and then is given permission to enter the U.S. as a refugee, is known as a refugee. The difference between them is a procedural one.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers Must Meet Same Basic Criteria, But Filing for Status is Different

In order for both types of applicants to obtain their status, they must demonstrate the same thing: that they qualify for protection under U.S. law because they meet the standard of a refugee in Section 101(a)(42)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) or 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A). That section says: The term "refugee" means: (A) 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 . . . .”

After the applicant obtains a refugee or asylum status, the rights of asylees and refugees are almost the same but not similar.

Procedural Steps to Obtaining a Refugee Status

When seeking refugee status, the foreigner must in most cases communicate with the U.S. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It is best to talk with an immigration lawyer about what steps to take.

Procedural Steps to Acquiring an Asylee Status

When applying for asylum, the applicant must be in the U.S. and if present unlawfully has not yet been detained or placed in removal proceedings. They can then submit what is known as an affirmative asylum application, Form I-589, issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If already in removal proceedings the application must be submitted to an immigration court judge. Requesting asylum upon arrival from one of the port-of-entry agents at the border or airport can be the least favorable alternative for some migrants. It is in your best interest that you get the help of an immigration law expert.

Rights of Refugees While in the U.S

Refugees have the right to live in the U.S. indefinitely (at minimum until conditions in their home country return to normal). A work permit and various forms of government aid is provided during the first months in the U.S. Additionally, refugees can also ask to bring immediate family members like their spouses and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age to join them by completing a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.

Rights of an Asylee in the U.S.

Individuals who have been given asylum in the U.S. have the right to remain in the U.S. indefinitely or until conditions in their country of residence return to normal. Asylees can apply for a work permit (Form I-765) as soon as approval for asylum has been provided. Others can still apply for a work permit while the asylum application process is still pending, depending on timing, only if the application process took longer to be completed for reasons not having to do with their own requests for delay. Asylees can also bring their immediate family members the same as refugees by submitting a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.

After a year of having received an asylum status, asylees can then apply for lawful permanent residence and four years after they can apply for U.S. citizenship.

Contact Your Nearest Immigration Attorney

Whether you are still overseas or in the U.S. and you are seeking asylum or refugee status speak with an immigration lawyer near you. Call Gambacorta Law Office at 847 908 4913 for advice and assistance. Our team will be happy to fight your case until it has been completed.