Asylum and Refugee Status for Ukrainian Seafarers


by Phil Schifflin, Center for Mariner Advocacy

Can I seek Asylum or Refugee status in the United States and what is the difference between the two?

In order to seek Asylum or Refugee status in the United States you must fear persecution due to your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.  Asylum is typically sought by individuals physically present in the United States or seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry.  Refugee status is sought by an individual not located in the United States. 

What does “persecution” mean?  It means to harass, punish, injure, oppress or otherwise cause someone to suffer physical or psychological harm.

Both the asylum process and refugee process are complex areas of US immigration law.  There are many groups that offer assistance with these processes.  Seeking their assistance or the assistance of an attorney with experience in immigration law is strongly recommended.

If you are a seafarer, and you think that you qualify for one of these programs, and would like assistance in locating an organization that might be able to help you, please contact the Center for Mariner Advocacy at

Image: David Rider/NAMMA Flickr


NAMMA members receive a print copy of The MARE Report, NAMMA’s annual magazines for seafarer’s welfare professionals