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So what is an Asylum seeker then?  This one seems to really get people confused since refugee and asylee are used almost interchangeably.

Asylum Seeker

The definition of an asylum seeker is the same as a refugee, however – asylum seekers have not yet been granted sanctuary in the country they are seeking refuge within.  This means you must touch the soil of the country and then apply for asylum. Once you’ve applied, you must prove you cannot return to your country of origin due a well-founded or credible fear of persecution due to his/ her race, religion, nationality, member of a particular social group or political opinion.

Again, this is the same definition as a refugee, the difference is that refugees are approved of their status prior to arriving to the country they are resettling in.  Asylum seekers must wait in either in detention or in limbo while their application is processed – a system which varies from country to country.

In the US under current US Executive Order, a person who arrives in the US with an asylum claim can be detained indefinitely while their asylum application is processing.

If an asylum seeker’s application is approved, they receive a similar status to refugees and can stay within that country  or might be processed for resettlement in a third country if such an agreement exists, such as currently within the EU. Again – each country varies – if there is an asylum process at all. In case of a negative decision, the person must leave the country and may be immediately deported.