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According to the United Nations (UN), an asylum seeker is "a person who has left their country of origin, has applied for recognition as a refugee in another country, and is awaiting a decision on their application".

In the UK, an asylum seeker is someone who has applied for asylum and is waiting to hear whether he or she will be granted leave to stay. It is the responsibility of the Home Office to decide if a person qualifies for asylum under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.