Applying for asylum in the US takes, on average, 6 months, 2 interviews and one big decision

Updated 1937 GMT (0337 HKT) May 1, 2018

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(CNN)When we think of people coming to the United States to escape danger and persecution, we tend to think of refugees. But the caravan of Central American men, women and children currently languishing at the US-Mexico border has turned national attention to another type of endangered group: asylum seekers.

In the United States, applying for asylum is a completely different process than arriving to the country as a refugee. Asylum seekers also tend to be of different nationalities than refugees.
According to statistics from the Department of Homeland Security, China was the country with the highest number of citizens seeking asylum in the United States in 2015, followed by El Salvador, Guatemala and Egypt.
The country that had the most asylum request denied? Mexico.
So what does the asylum process look like? And to whom does it apply?

Asylum status isn't the same as refugee status

When people request asylum, they are essentially seeking protection from violence or persecution that keep them from feeling safe in their home country or keep them from returning safely to their home country. In order for someone to qualify for asylum, they must meet the definition of a "refugee" as laid out by the Immigration and Nationality Act.