Refugee: A person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution. — Article 1 of the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention
The term refugee is used to encompass the following immigration statuses: (1) refugees; (2) asylees; (3) Cuban and Haitian entrants; (4) certain Amerasians from Vietnam; (5) victims of a severe form of trafficking who receive certification or eligibility letters from ORR and certain other specified family members of trafficking victims; (6) children classified as Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs) receiving services from ORR-funded Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) programs; and (7) Iraqi and Afghan children with a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV).
Unaccompanied Minors: Children who arrive illegally in the United States and without a legal guardian. The vast majority of unaccompanied children and families arriving at the southwest border come from Mexico, or are fleeing the violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador (Northern Triangle). Due to their vulnerability, these young migrants receive certain protections under U.S. law. Unaccompanied minors from non bordering countries are held in holding facilities to determine their identity, receive basic medical and social care, and for placement with a sponsor in the US, foster care, or group homes. They are then released to a sponsor in the US, who can be a relative, a friend of the family or someone with no connection to the family. While in the US, unaccompanied minors usually attend schools for several years while awaiting a final decision from immigration legal proceedings. They are legally not considered refugees.
Asylum Seeker: A person who has fled from his or her own country due to fear of persecution and has applied for (legal and physical) protection in another country but has not yet had their claim for protection assessed.