An asylum seeker is an individual who is attempting to obtain asylum within another country. An asylum seeker will have some reason that he or she feels unsafe within his or her home country, and therefore an asylum seeker will have some reason for which he or she will desire asylum.
An asylum seeker can also be referred to as an asylee. Asylum seekers generally must seek asylum on certain grounds, specifically that he or she feels persecuted within his or her home country for particular reasons, including political beliefs, race, religion, nationality, or even in some cases sexual persuasion. Asylum seekers must, in some capacity, be able to demonstrate the presence of persecution based on one of these grounds in order to be granted sanctuary by another nation.
Should an asylum seeker be granted sanctuary, however, he or she will be fully protected by the sanctuary-granting nation, according to the international rules and regulations regarding asylum. This is the primary reason for which an asylum seeker aims for sanctuary, as once sanctuary is granted, there is little that his or her home nation can do in order to get him or her returned to his or her home nation, unless the nation granting sanctuary chooses to return him or her. Once sanctuary is granted, the sanctuary granted nation will almost without question not return the former asylum seeker to his or her home nation.
In most countries, there is some sort of agency for dealing with the applications of asylum seekers, and the workers within that agency determine whether or not the cases of asylum seekers merit consideration for asylum and sanctuary.