An asylee, like a refugee, is a person who flees his or her country and is unwilling or unable to return due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted. This persecution is based on reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. However, asylees arrive in the United States on their own as students, tourists, business people, or without any immigration status at all. After they have entered the country or reached a port of entry, they apply for and may receive a grant of asylum, which acknowledges that they meet the legal definition of a refugee and are permitted to stay in the United States. Asylees are eligible for the same services as refugees beginning the date on which they are granted asylum and may apply for Legal Permanent Resident status after one year and U.S. citizenship after five years in the U.S. Learn more about asylum status in the U.S.

Quick Facts:

  • In 2016, over 3.4 million individuals were waiting a decision on their application for asylum(1).
  • The countries receiving the most new asylum applications in 2015 were Germany, Hungary, and the US(2).
  • Asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria filed the highest number of new asylum claims worldwide by the middle of 2016(3).
  • During 2015, 26,124 individuals were granted asylum in the United States(4).
  • In 2015, the leading countries of nationality for persons granted asylum in the U.S. were China, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Egypt (5).

(1-3) United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 2016 Global Trends Report
(4, 5) Department of Homeland Security 2015 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

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