Asylum and Refugee Status
People that have left their home country for their own safety and are afraid to return can be welcomed in the United Status under special legal protections as asylees or refugees.
Although the definition of a refugee or asylee generally includes anyone that has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security uses a more narrow definition limited to five types of persecution.
Once granted asylum or refugee status, the individual generally has a clear path to permanent residence and eventually U.S. citizenship.
Difference between Asylum and Refugee Status
The difference between an asylee and refugee depends on where a person applies. People outside of the United States must apply for refugee status. People who have already made it to the United States border or the interior (by legal or illegal entry) can apply for asylum status.
Benefits of Asylum and Refugee Status
Both asylees and refugees are eligible for a green card after one year of being admitted to the United States. In fact, people with refugee status are required to apply for permanent resident status (green card) after one year. Although it is generally in their best interest, asylees are not required to apply for permanent resident status. Once granted asylum or refugee status, both categories of immigrants may begin working in the U.S. and travel abroad.
Asylum and Refugee Eligibility
Applicants for asylum and refugee status have slightly different requirements. However both must meet the following fundamental guidelines. The applicant must be able to demonstrate two things:
- He or she is unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to past persecution or have a well-founded fear that of persecution if he or she returns.
- The reason for persecution is related to one of five things: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.