source: Full Fact GB
published: 6 March 2017
People sometimes use the terms “refugee” and “asylum seeker” interchangeably. But they’re different.
The UK government accepts someone as a refugee if he or she has fled their own country because of a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”.
Those words are from the Geneva Convention on refugees, a United Nations agreement that the UK is signed up to.
The government also allows people to stay in the country to keep them safe without granting them refugee status as defined by the Geneva Convention. When we refer to “refugees” or “asylum grants” in this article, we’re including these other forms of asylum, such as Humanitarian Protection or Leave Outside The Rules for human rights reasons.
An asylum seeker is someone who has applied to the Home Office for refugee status or one of those other forms of international protection, and is awaiting a decision on that application.