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Refugees & Asylum

Refugee carrying water and walking with a childRefugee status or asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. 

Refugees

Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee and who are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm. For a legal definition of refugee, see section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

You may seek a referral for refugee status only from outside of the United States. For more information about refugees, see the  “Refugees” section.

Asylum

Asylum status is a form of protection available to people who:

  • Meet the definition of refugee
  • Are already in the United States
  • Are seeking admission at a port of entry

You may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of your country of origin or your current immigration status. For more information about asylum status, see the “Asylum” section. 

Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/01/2011