What’s the Difference Between a Refugee and an Asylee?

Following the proper immigration process is always important, but it is especially critical when petitioning the United States because you fear for your safety in your home country. The two main options in this type of situation are petitioning as a refugee and petitioning as an asylee. Understanding the difference between these two options will help to ensure you are following the correct processes so you do not experience delays and you have the best possible chance at approval.

What do Refugee and Asylee Have in Common?

Refugees and asylees often have a lot in common, which causes some people to mistakenly believe that these terms are interchangeable. The requirements to be considered either as a refugee or an asylee are very similar, with the two major points being: 

  • Persecuted or Well-Founded Fear of Persecution – If you are being persecuted, or have a well-founded fear of being persecuted, in your home country you may qualify.
  • Persecution Based on Protected Grounds – This persecution must be based on some protected grounds, which includes (but is not limited to) things like race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group.

While both of these statuses will have the same type of requirements, applying for the wrong one will cause unnecessary delays or even denials.

Differences Between Refugee and Asylee

The biggest differences between these two terms is actually the procedures that you must go through when petitioning the United States. A refugee is someone who is currently outside the United States and is petitioning to be able to enter the country because remaining in their home country, or reentering it, presents a serious risk of danger to them or their family. An asylee is someone who is currently in the United States and is petitioning to be able to stay in order to avoid the persecution that awaits them in their home country.

Getting the Legal Help You Need

Whether you are looking to become a refugee or an asylee, you need to make sure you are following the legal processes and procedures that are required. If you or a loved one is at risk of persecution in your home country, beginning this process is something that should be done as soon as possible to ensure the best chance at success. Contact Relis Law to discuss the specifics of your situation so we can help you to begin the process right away. Also, it is important to keep in mind that after a year of living in the USA as a refugee or an asylee, you can apply for a green card so you can remain here indefinitely.

What’s the difference between a refugee and an asylee?


The following two tabs change content below.


We help people from around the world to live and work freely in the U.S., to achieve their dreams, unite families, or escape persecution. No matter what immigration service you need, RelisLaw will provide caring and dependable counsel to you and aggressive advocacy to vigorously fight for you using every available legal avenue. As a global firm, we work with people in countries around the world. We meet clients across the U.S., as well as in New York, Toronto, and Montréal. We also meet with clients globally, located in any country, via Skype and other platforms.