The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees:

 “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

In the UK, a person is officially a refugee when they have their claim for asylum accepted by the government.

Once granted refugee status, a person is allowed to work, study or claim benefits whilst they look for work.

Asylum Seeker:

A person who has left their country of origin and formally applied for asylum in another country but whose application has not yet been concluded.  Asylum seekers in the UK are not usually allowed to work.  They are given housing and weekly subsistence support of c. £37.75 (2020) if needed, until their claim has been decided.

Refused asylum seeker:

A person whose asylum application has been unsuccessful and who has no other claim for protection awaiting a decision. Some refused asylum seekers voluntarily return home, others are forcibly returned and for some it is not safe or practical for them to return until conditions in their country change, and they may be granted limited leave to remain.

Economic migrant:

Someone who has moved to another country to work. Refugees are not economic migrants.