Who is an asylum seeker?
An asylum seeker is a person seeking to be granted protection as a refugee outside their country of origin and is awaiting the determination of his/her status. If granted refugee status, the person is no longer an asylum seeker. In Ireland, the asylum process is a legal system which decides who qualifies as a refugee and who is then entitled to remain in Ireland and under its protection. Others that do not qualify as refuges may be granted subsidiary protection. Those judged not to be refugees can be deported back to their home countries.
Who is a refugee?
A refugee is someone who has had to leave their country of origin because of “a well-founded fear of persecution because of reasons including their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Ireland is a signatory to the “1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees”, which obliges us to provide protection to people fleeing their country for the reasons above. Refugees are entitled to apply for ‘family reunification’ to bring their immediate family members (within certain criteria) to Ireland.
The terms asylum-seeker and refugee are often confused: an asylum-seeker is someone who claims he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been evaluated by the authorities in the country in which they apply.
Programme refugees have their claims evaluated in refugee camps abroad and are brought into countries under specific resettlement programmes. Ireland has taken several groups of programme refugees into the country over the last number of years including Sudanese, Rohingya, Somalians, and more recently Syrians.