Who is a refugee?
A refugee is a person who has fled his or her home country because he or she is being persecuted there because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group and is therefore unable to return to his or her home country. A person is a refugee even before the state grants him / her protection after submitting an asylum application, i.e. granting refugee status merely officially confirms being a refugee, not does not make a person a refugee. The word "refugee" may be used both as a synonym for the umbrella term "refugee" or to refer to beneficiaries of protection under the Geneva Convention. In Estonia, beneficiaries of refugee status are granted a three-year residence permit on the basis of the Geneva Convention.
An asylum seeker, or applicant for international protection, is a person who has left his or her home country and applied for international protection from another country, but whose application has not yet been finally decided.
A beneficiary of subsidiary protection is a person who does not qualify for refugee status, but who, on return to his or her country of origin, would be at risk of being executed, tortured or killed by accidental violence in an armed conflict and therefore granted international protection. In Estonia, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are granted a 1-year residence permit.
The beneficiary of international protection is an umbrella term for different protection statuses. In Estonia, this term includes people who have been granted refugee status and subsidiary protection status.