An individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she has submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognized as a refugee, but every recognized refugee is initially an asylum seeker. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2006).
A person who has fled their country of origin, and is unwilling or unable to return due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted due to their race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group, or political opinion (1951 UN Convention Regarding the Status of Refugee – link to convention). Refugees APPLY for status with a designated UN or other international agency (e.g. UNHCR); based on the determination of this agency, and upon being assigned a refugee status outside the United States, refugees are resettled* in the United States. * Link to US Refugee Law (1980).
A migratory movement which, although the drivers can be diverse, involves force, compulsion or coercion (IOM). Note: While not an international legal concept, this term has been used to describe the movements of refugees, displaced persons (including those displaced by disasters or development projects), and, in some instances, victims of trafficking. At the international level the use of this term is debated because of the widespread recognition that a continuum of agency exists rather than a voluntary/forced dichotomy and that it might undermine the existing legal international protection regime. (IOM).