Legal Immigration

“We the people of this continent are not afraid of foreigners because many of us were once foreigners.” – Pope Francis

Learn more at the Tennessee Office for Refugees

Is a refugee different from an asylum-seeker?

They both must demonstrate that they have experienced persecution or have a well-founded fear that they will be persecuted “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Migrating people in these two categories’ are eligible to apply for a green card after one year.

  • Asylum is granted to people who are already in the United States.
  • Refugee: Provided to people who are vetted abroad and approved for resettlement through the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and Homeland Security. A refugee is always an immigrant, but an immigrant is not always a refugee. A refugee is not an illegal immigrant.

What is “illegal” immigration and how is it different from legal immigration?

“The unauthorized resident immigrant population is defined as all foreign-born non-citizens who are not legal residents. Most unauthorized residents either entered the United States without inspection or were admitted temporarily and stayed past the date they were required to leave. . .”– United States Department of Homeland Security

Illegal immigration is a serious offense which results in many consequences such as deportation, loss of residency status, possible ban on re-entry in the future, etc. In Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville we always respect the law and only support the legal immigration of our foreign-born neighbors.

An individual may obtain lawful permanent resident status (LPR status), including:


million people live outside of their countries of birth, including 32.5 million refugees as of mid-2022. –The World Bank Group (Migration, 2022)