Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Alien and Immigrant

Alien vs Immigrant

The terms Alien and Immigrant are used to describe non native individuals who become residents of a different country to their origin. Both terms are similarly used in the same concept; but it is important to clarify the difference between the two expressions.

The act of immigration is to intentionally relocate yourself to another country. It is widely acknowledged that Immigrants often migrate towards a country that will provide them with better living prospects than their own. An immigrant has the intention, be it legal or illegal, to settle away from their homeland. Many countries strictly control the level of immigrants that enter their country. The severity of their controls leads to people illegally seeking refuge. The term illegal immigrant is often used to describe individuals who purposefully refuse to go back home, even though the action of staying is not allowed. The illegal immigrant seeks to provide a home and wage for themselves, even though their new country believes that they should be sustained in their country of origin.

The term alien is not to be confused with that of an immigrant. Just like Immigrants, there are two types of alien that we can discuss.  In today’s society, the term legal alien refers to a person who is temporarily residing in a different country. A good example of this would be a student. In the short term, a student is allowed to enter the country to study. They have not been given permission to become a resident, but they have been allowed access to the country. We often term this kind of individual as a resident alien. An illegal alien is an individual who seeks refuge in another country through no fault of their own. They are not actively looking to change residency, but often find themselves unable to return to their place of origin. They seek refuge within another country but would prefer to return to their homeland. It is interesting to note that the Latin translation for Alien means ‘belonging to another.’


  1. Both Alien and Immigrant relate to a person who is not native to the country in which they are residing.
  2. There are two types of Immigrant. Immigrants that are invited for residency and the ones that are residing without given authority.
  3. Immigrants have the intention to settle away from their homeland.
  4. An alien is an individual who is temporarily residing in another country, but has every intention of returning home.
  5. Illegal aliens are individuals who do not actively seek to relocate themselves, but find they are unable to return to their homeland due to difficulties.

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