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A foreign national is any person who is not a national of the country in which they are residing or temporarily sojourning. For example, a foreign national in Canada is someone who is neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident.[1]

In the United StatesEdit

According to the U.S. Congress, which is responsible for creating and revising U.S. federal law, "the term 'foreign national' means. . . an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 1101(a)(22) of title 8) and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by section 1101(a)(20) of title 8."[2] In other words, U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and permanent U.S. residents are not foreign nationals when it comes to the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States.[3] A permanent U.S. resident is statutorily entitled to U.S. nationality and at the same time strictly prohibited from spending more than six months outside the United States.[4]

Any alien who is provided Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which is a special program that was created by the U.S. Congress in the early 1990s, is considered a foreign national. Unless shown by "clear and convincing evidence" to the contrary, such foreign national is not a refugee and has no right to U.S. nationality or permanent residency.[5]

In CanadaEdit

The law of Canada divides people into three major groups: citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals.[1] Under section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection of Canada (IRPA), "foreign national means a person who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, and includes a stateless person."[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ 52 U.S.C. § 30121(b)
  3. ^ 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(3)
  4. ^ Rafeedie v. INS, 880 F.2d 506, 522 (D.C. Cir. 1989) ("See 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a) (absence of less than six months deemed not to interrupt continuous residence for naturalization purposes)")
  5. ^ Saliba v. Att’y Gen., 828 F.3d 182 (3d Cir. 2016); see also Melissa Etehad, ed. (July 19, 2018). "The Trump administration wants more than 400,000 people to leave the U.S. Here's who they are and why". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  6. ^