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What’s the difference between immigrants and refugees?

What’s the difference between immigrants and refugees?

    • Abaid

      The difference between immigrants, refugees, expats and asylum seekers is not widely understood. Web pages dealing with the “myth” that all illegal immigrants are “criminals” are full of comments from people who think the distinction is well understood. It isn’t.


      An immigrant is someone who moves to a country to live. Few immigrants stay where they were born. Most immigrants move for work (or jobs) and better lives. The United States is the most common destination for newcomers.



      A refugee is an individual who has fled their country to escape war, persecution or natural disaster. While they may struggle with labels, they know that the countries they move on through are obligated to give them shelter until they can return home.

      Difference between refugee and immigrant

      The difference between a refugee and an immigrant is that refugees are fleeing their country due to political or religious persecution. One of the key differences between refugees and immigrants is how they come to a country. Refugees flee from conflict or persecution, often with nothing more than what they can carry on their backs.

      Consequently, they often arrive with limited skills and fluency in the local language. As much as possible, governments try to help refugees settle and once they do begin integrating into society, they are helped by non-profits and charities like the United Nations Refugee Agency.

      Generally speaking, refugees cannot return to their home country. They are fearful of persecution, personal harm (including death), or imprisonment for holding unpopular political views. Immigrants, on the other hand, move to a new country voluntarily. They often enter into the country legally with proper documentation and identification; once they are there, they can apply for citizenship.


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