It is common for most people to use the terms “refugee” and “asylum seeker” interchangeably when discussing immigration in America. Although asylees and refugees have a lot of similarities, it is essential to differentiate between both statuses when applying for citizenship.
If you want more information on this topic, consider consulting an Immigration Attorney in NYC. Read on or reach out to an Immigration Attorney in Bronx or Ozone Park to learn more about the difference between the two.
Let’s explore what it means to be a refugee or an asylum seeker and the difference between the two.
What’s the Primary Difference?
According to the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a refugee is
“…(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…” (8 USC § 1101(a)(42)(A)).
A refugee is a person who has been granted international protection and is recognized as having a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country. Refugees have the right to remain in the country where they have been granted asylum and are entitled to certain rights and protections, including access to education, employment, and other essential services.
On the other hand, an asylum seeker has fled their home country and is seeking international protection but has yet to be granted refugee status. This means that they have made a request for protection from the government of the country they are in, but their claim is still being evaluated.
Asylum seekers are entitled to certain rights, such as the right to a fair and efficient asylum procedure and the right to access basic services such as healthcare, education, and legal assistance. To be granted asylee status, a person must also meet the criteria similar to the refugees’ above.
The primary difference between a refugee and an asylee is that a refugee is granted refugee status while still outside the United States; an asylum seeker is granted asylee status after entering the country or while seeking admission at a port of entry.
Asylum seekers get different international protections than refugees, which means host countries typically offer very minimal assistance. Furthermore, NGOs that provide aid to refugees are usually unable to help asylum seekers because of the significant disparities in the laws and procedures related to each group.
Therefore, it is pertinent to employ the services of an experienced immigration attorney Bronx, who would give an advisory consultation on the feasible option that best matches your status. The main difference between the two terms lies in the legal status of the individual.
While an asylum seeker is still waiting for their claim to be processed, a refugee has already been granted protection and has legal rights and status in their new country. Suppose you are a refugee or asylee seeking information on the legal process of obtaining a green card or citizenship.
In that case, it is advised that you seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney Bronx.
Rights of a Refugee in the US
You will enjoy certain benefits if you come to the United States as a refugee. You will be given certain additional protections after you arrive as well. Such include:
- Help with Resettlement: The US Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), in conjunction with various nonprofit agencies, assists with providing services such as locating and furnishing an apartment, getting to know the local bus and public transport routes, registering children in school, learning English, and searching for jobs, etc.
- Right to Stay and Work in the US: Refugees are granted the privilege of staying in the US for an unlimited amount of time until there is no longer a threat in their home country that would cause them to fear going back. Additionally, they can submit an application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which must be renewed yearly.
- Easy Travel: Refugees who have been granted asylum in the United States can travel into and out of the country. (NB- It’s not advisable to travel back to the country from which you gained refugee status. If you do, then you may be found to have given up your refugee status because you apparently have no fear of persecution anymore.)
- Right to Apply for a Green Card: A refugee who is hoping to gain legal permanent residence (or a green card) in the United States must wait a full calendar year before beginning the process of applying for it. You have the right to apply with the USCIS using a procedure known as “adjustment of status.” An immigration attorney Bronx or immigration attorney Ozone park handling the whole process will make the application a walk in the park.
Rights of an Asylum Seeker
An asylum seeker’s rights, in contrast to a refugee’s, are not nearly as wholesome.
- The right to apply for asylum: Asylum seekers have the right to apply for protection in the US if they meet the legal criteria for asylum.
- Right to basic services: An asylee has the right to a variety of basic services in the US, such as healthcare, legal representation from an experienced immigration attorney Bronx or immigration Ozone park, and other necessary resources.
- The right to an interpreter: Asylum seekers who do not speak English have the right to an interpreter during interviews and court proceedings.
While it may be true that a person can successfully flee their home and evade immediate danger, arriving safely in the United States does not necessarily guarantee freedom from persecution. In recent times, clear decisions have made it clear that seeking asylum in the US due to gang or domestic violence is no longer a valid reason.
As a result, families fleeing the threat of death from gangs are not granted any special protections, nor are they permitted to seek asylum in the United States. It’s important to note that asylum seekers and refugees are vulnerable populations who have experienced trauma and hardship and require support and assistance from the international community.
Therefore, providing protection and support for these individuals is a key responsibility of governments and international organizations and a reflection of our shared humanity and commitment to human rights.
In conclusion, asylum seekers and refugees are similar in seeking safety and protection, but the key difference between the two lies in their legal status. While an asylum seeker is still waiting for their claim to be processed, a refugee has already been granted protection and has legal rights and status in their new country.
Immigration Assistance for Refugees and Asylees
The annual flow report of the Department of Homeland Security indicates that refugees tend to have greater naturalization rates compared to non-refugee immigrants. If you are a refugee or asylee and require assistance in obtaining or maintaining your status, or wish to pursue citizenship or a green card, do not hesitate to seek consultation with an experienced immigration attorney Bronx.