Alien (law)

In law, an alien is a person who is not a national of a given country,[1] though definitions and terminology differ to some degree.


The term "Alien" is derived from the Latin alienus, meaning stranger, foreign, etym. "belonging (somewhere) else".[citation needed]


Different countries use varying terms for "aliens" including:

  • an illegal immigrant, illegal alien or undocumented alien is person who is residing on a non-temporary basis in a country where he or she has no legal right to reside. It is a non-citizen who has entered a country through illegal migration,[2] for example entered illegally, or an alien who entered a country legally but who has fallen "out of status",[3] and subsequently refused to leave the country as legally required, or a descendant of one.
  • a legal alien is a non-citizen who is legally permitted to remain in a country. This is a very broad category which includes tourists, guest workers, legal permanent residents and student visa resident aliens.[citation needed]
    • a nonresident alien is a non-citizen who is visiting a country, for example as a tourist, on business, entertainers, sportspeople or in the country to receive medical treatment.[citation needed]
    • a resident alien is a non-citizen who has resident status in a country.[citation needed]
  • an enemy alien is a non-citizen who is a national of an enemy country.[citation needed]
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