Illegal alien terminology

The 14th Amendment

This website uses the correct term, illegal alien, for those who sneak into our country in violation of our immigration laws.

To clarify, an alien is any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. An immigrant is an alien admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

An illegal alien is someone who enters the United States without immigration inspection or without an appropriate visa authorizing entry.

The term illegal immigrant is often used interchangeably with illegal alien. However, the correct term for a person entering the United States unlawfully is illegal alien.

The politically-correct phrase undocumented immigrant has no legal basis - it is simply a term used by those who support open borders as an attempt to reframe terminology used in the immigration debate.

A permanent resident alien is an alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residency. Permanent residents are also sometimes referred to as immigrants. Note that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) broadly defines an immigrant as any alien in the United States, except one legally admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories (INA section 101(a)(15)).

Only legal permanent residents may reside permanently in the United States. The Department of State issues visas for this purpose. Other agencies can adjust one's immigration status to permanent resident alien.

A non-resident alien is an temporary resident of the United States who is invited a specific purpose. The alien must have a permanent residence abroad (for most classes of admission) and qualify for the desired nonimmigrant classification.

For more information, see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Glossary and Terms. Also see US State Department information.