Refugee Council of Australia
Refugee holding child with words Refugee or Migrant? Word choice matters

Who is a refugee? Who is an asylum seeker?

Who is an asylum seeker?

The term ‘asylum seeker’ is often used interchangeably with ‘refugee’, but means something different under law. Asylum seekers are the people who have sought protection as a refugee, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been assessed.

However, under international law, a person is a ‘refugee’ as soon as they meet the definition of refugee, whether or not their claim has been assessed. If they are found to be refugees, then they are ‘recognised refugees’.

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