Alien vs Immigrant: Difference and Comparison

While the term alien conjures up images of green, slimy-looking extra-terrestrial beings we watched in movies as a child, the term is also used in context to people who reside in a country that is not their homeland.

An immigrant is another term used to refer to non-native people inhabiting a country with set differences between the two.

Key Takeaways

  1. An alien is a foreign-born individual who has yet to acquire citizenship in a new country. At the same time, an immigrant has moved to another country, intending to settle permanently.
  2. Aliens may have temporary visas, whereas immigrants have permanent residency status or seek citizenship.
  3. Both terms apply to people from different countries, but “immigrant” implies a more permanent change in residence.

Alien vs Immigrant

The difference between alien and immigrant is that while alien refers to people who are in a foreign country for a  specific, mostly short period of time, immigrant, on the other hand, refers to people who have relocated themselves to another country, for a longer stay. They both refer to people who do not originally belong to the country in question.

Alien vs Immigrant

The term alien firstly is not to be confused with living beings from another planet. The aliens referred to here belong to the Earth. An alien is used to denote someone who is a citizen of a foreign country.

This person should follow the laws, rules, and regulations in lieu of the non-citizens’ law of the host country. Typically aliens predominantly contain people who are travelling for a shorter period of time.

The term immigrant refers to people who move to a different country and establish their livelihood in the host country. These people have permanent residence in the given foreign country.

They, however, do not have the right to be called a citizen of the country in all cases. Immigration is permitted only when definite employment and residential status is available.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAlienImmigrant
DefinitionAn alien refers to a foreign country citizenAn Immigrant refers to a person who has traveled to the host country for livelihood.
CitizenshipThey are not the host country’s citizen They can or cannot be a citizen
Legal StatusSubject to host country’s law on non-citizensSubject to the host country’s law
PermanencyAn alien’s stay is not permanent.An immigrant moves to a foreign country with the aim of prolonged residence.
ExamplePeople studying, traveling, on business, or/and vacation.Employment or business opportunities presented in a foreign country with permanence. 

What is an Alien?

The term alien is used to mention or specify an individual who is a citizen of a foreign country but is currently residing in a foreign country. Hence, the name alien.

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This word signifies a foreign country citizen who does not belong to the host country. However, the alien is subjected to the law pertaining to non-citizens that are applicable in the country in question.

This alien is expected to follow the laws, rules, and regulations in lieu of the non-citizens’ laws of the host country. 

Generally, an alien does not stay in the host country for prolonged periods of time. The aliens mostly contain individuals travelling for brief periods of time. 

Aliens can be of two types, either legal or illegal. Legal non-resident aliens need authenticated licenses such as Visas and Work Permit for them to visit and stay in the country.

These documents are of vital importance for such people as they carry legal proof.

Aliens who do possess such proof and/or evidence are considered to be living in the host country illegally. Being without documentation can cause several problems for the aliens.

Aliens consist of people who visit the country in question for studying, travelling, business, or/and vacation.

What is an Immigrant?

An immigrant refers to a person who has moved to a different country. This person has done so to establish a livelihood in the host country of their choice. 

This person originally belongs to a foreign country and has relocated to the given country. Depending on several criteria, duration, etc., an immigrant may or may not be a citizen of the country they are currently living in.

Therefore immigrants do not have the right to be called a citizen of the host country in all cases. There are strict rules that exist pertaining to immigration.

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Most cases of immigration require definite employment and residential status to be available before immigration is permitted.

Immigrants are subjugated to the laws pertaining to the host country. They are expected to follow and practice the laws, rules, and regulations of the country they are presently residing in.

In most cases, an immigrant is deemed to move to a foreign country with the aim of permanent residence.

This is dependent on employment or business opportunities presented in a foreign country to the people who choose to move into another country as immigrants. 

It is important to note that all immigrants are not considered aliens who only stay for a brief period of time. 

immigrant

Main Differences Between Alien and Immigrant

  1. The term alien is used to mention a foreign country citizen. An immigrant is used in relation to a person who has travelled to the host country for livelihood.
  2. According to the host country, aliens are subject to the law for non-citizens. Immigrants are expected to follow the host country’s laws.
  3. An alien is not seen as a citizen of the host country. An immigrant may or may not be a citizen.
  4. The staying period or duration of an alien is not permanent. Immigrants, meanwhile, move to a foreign country to reside there permanently.
  5. Immigrants consist of people visiting the host country for studying, travelling, business, or/and vacation. Immigrants relocate on the basis of employment or business opportunities.
Difference Between Alien and Immigrant
References
  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.18574/9780814759028/html
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/lst.2011.29

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “Alien vs Immigrant: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article does well in explaining the differences between aliens and immigrants. The tone is neutral and the explanations are thorough.

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