WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REFUGEE, ASYLUM SEEKER, AND IMMIGRANT?
Refugee Transitions began in 1982 serving only refugees. However, in 2000 the agency began serving low-income immigrants and asylum seekers. Refugees are defined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as “persons who are outside their country and cannot return owing to a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, or political opinion or membership of a particular social group.” Refugees are brought to a country by the government and given permanent residency. Asylum seekers differ from refugees in that refugees are assigned their status before they enter the host country, whereas asylum seekers first seek sanctuary in another state and then apply for ‘asylum’ – the right to be recognized as a bona fide refugee and to receive legal protection and material assistance. Immigrants migrate (voluntarily) to another country, usually for permanent residency.