Distinguishing Between Aliens & Immigrants

Alien vs Immigrant

The terms alien and immigrant are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Both words refer to individuals who are not natives of a country. However, there are some distinctions between the two terms that people should be aware of.

Key Takeaways

  • An alien is anyone who is in a foreign country without citizenship, regardless of their intentions for staying in the country.
  • An immigrant is someone who moves to a foreign country with the intention of permanently settling there.
  • Both legal and illegal immigrants exist, while aliens can be categorized as resident aliens, illegal aliens, or enemy aliens.


In general, an alien is any creature who is at a wrong place or does not belong to the place where it is located presently. An individual living inside the US without having the citizenship of the country is often referred to as an alien. Aliens who have sneaked into the country without having the legal documents such as visa etc. are known as illegal aliens. This category also consists of persons who stay beyond the duration of time that they are entitled to in their visas. There is another category of aliens called resident aliens. These are foreigners living inside the country who are living legally but have not obtained the citizenship of the country. Alien as a word is opposite of the word native. An alien who belongs to an enemy country is referred to as an enemy alien.


An immigrant is an individual who comes over to another country with the intention of shifting permanently to that country. Immigrant is a term that is used to refer all people of foreign origin who have relocated here to settle down. There are people around the world who dream of moving over to the US and living there permanently. This is possible through immigration, which is a process of applying for a permanent visa in a foreign country. Like other countries, US strives to keep down the number of immigrants to a reasonable level. USA faces a high stream of people who try to immigrate inside the US illegally without getting the permission of the authorities. These are called illegal immigrants while those who migrate after going through the legitimate process are called legal immigrants.

Alien vs Immigrant

• An alien, as well as an immigrant, is an individual who is not a native of the country in which it is found located.
• Immigrants are people who decide to move over to a foreign country, to permanently settle there.
• There are both legal as well as illegal immigrants.
• Alien is an individual who is not in a foreign country for permanent settlement as he intends to return back to his own country.
• Anyone who is not a native of a country and is living inside the country without citizenship is referred to as an alien.

Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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