Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences Between Refugee and Asylee

‘Refugee’ vs ‘Asylee’

There are many reasons why a citizen of one country is compelled to leave and seek a new home in another place. It could be financial in nature which is the driving force behind migrant workers. But more than earning money, people who leave their homeland often do it because of more serious causes like; being persecuted for political beliefs, being threatened with physical harm or even death.

There are two terms used to describe individuals who are forced to seek admission in another country; a refugee and an asylee. Most people get confused between these titles because essentially they both refer to the same thing; a person moving to another territory because living in his own country has been made virtually impossible by circumstances beyond his control. Nevertheless, their similarities stop there as both terms have unique requisites in order to be applied correctly.

The word ‘refugee’ has its roots from the term ‘refuge’ which means a safe haven or sanctuary. Based on the definition, one can infer that a person tagged as a refugee is looking for a safe place to go because he deems the one he is currently in is dangerous for him. There are various reasons that can make a country unfit to live in. It could be a natural disaster that renders great damage to property and resources; it could be political violence and civil war; it could be foreign invasion. Any reason that renders continued existence in one place impossible can be grounds for seeking refuge in another country.

‘Asylee’ is the term used for people who are looking for a place to rest or hide because someone is after them. It is taken from the word ‘asylum’ which is described similarly with refuge. This is why they’re often mixed up. People who seek asylum are doing it for a different reason. It has more to do with personal beliefs and practices rather than geographical difficulties. Asylees are usually individuals who are persecuted politically or have committed crimes and are wanted for trial. They can return to their own countries once the individuals looking for them are gone, or the issues that involve them are resolved.

The United States clearly defines the difference between a refugee and an asylee in their laws. People who are seeking to become refugees in America must do it prior to entry into their legal borders. They are easily granted passage especially from countries who have officially asked help from the US government. Asylum seekers, on the other hand, do it once they’re inside U.S. territory. Commonly, individuals who do this cross U.S. borders illegally which is why the issue becomes dicey between legitimate asylees and illegal immigrants.


1. A refugee seeks for a safe haven because his homeland has been rendered unlivable either by acts of God or man-made disasters. An asylee is looking for a pit-stop because of personal persecution from individuals or groups in his own country.
2. A refugee asks entrance into America while he is still outside the borders while an asylee has already entered U.S. territory before asking for help from the government.

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