Individuals seeking safety within the United States could have asylum or refugee status depending on their circumstances. It is important to recognize the differences between each designation. Keep reading for more information.

Immigration Status

The Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are responsible for overseeing immigration in the United States. The USCIS in particular is responsible for processing and reviewing immigration applications for a number of visas from business to family based status.

A person’s immigration status depends on their circumstances. For instance, a migrant married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may be approved for a family-based visa. On the other hand, someone seeking to study in the U.S. can receive a temporary visa which will allow them to do so.

There are two types of immigration status:

  • Immigrant visas: Immigrant visas are permanent and grant immigrants rights and privileges that are either close or equal to that of citizens
  • Migrant visas: Migrant visas are temporary and often apply to work or study visas. A person with a migrant visa may not participate in certain activities like voting or running for public office

Asylum and refugee status are non-permanent migrant statuses. Those who are granted asylum or refuge may stay in the United States for a period of time depending on their reason for leaving their country of origin.


Asylees are granted asylum after entering the country or while seeking admission at a border or port of entry. When a person is approved for asylum, they receive protection within the United States instead of going through removal proceedings.

In most cases, asylees are seeing security due to a risk of persecution in their country of origin. For example, religious or political groups may experience extreme persecution. To apply for asylum, a migrant must be physically present in the country.


A refugee is a person who flees their country of origin because of fear of persecution or because of complicated and dire circumstances in their country of origin. For example, a refugee may seek refuge in the U.S. if their home country is at war or there has been a devastating natural disaster.

Migrants must apply for refugee status outside of the United States. Entry into the country without approved immigration status or asylee status is punishable by deportation.

Entrust Your Future to Our Attorneys

Smith Law Offices, LLC understands the complexities of asylee and refugee status and can help you find the safety and security you deserve in the United States.

Contact our firm to learn more.

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