Difference Between Nationality, Citizenship, Immigration (With Example)

Nationality and citizenship are two relative terms that often confuse people. The third term that comes into action while talking about nationality and citizenship is immigration. When people who have migrated from other countries to India or have migrated from India to other countries talk about these terms, they sometimes use the wrong word. 

However, it is of utmost importance to know the difference between nationality and citizenship, and their relation with immigration. Therefore, in this quick yet comprehensive write-up, let’s understand what is nationality, citizenship, and immigration, as well as the difference between citizenship and nationality.

What is Immigration?

Immigration is the movement or migration of a person from one country to another country of which they don’t hold citizenship. This movement is meant for the long-term, such as a permanent residence or residing for months or years. 

Tourists who visit other countries, or the commuters moving to a new country do not come under the immigration process. The person who is moving to a new country for the long term is called an immigrant. 

There can be several purposes of immigration, such as to pursue higher education, employment, get special medication, etc. For all these purposes, the Indian Government has formed a dedicated entity named the Bureau of Immigration (BOI). The role of this BOI is to handle and manage the immigration functions in the country. 

Therefore, whenever someone is interested in migrating to India, he/she has to apply for required visas. For instance, there are Student Visa, Employment Visa, Medical Visa, and more. 

There is another term related to migration that often confuses people- emigrants. What is the difference between immigrants and emigrants?

So, the core difference is the person crossing the country’s borders is called an immigrant or migrant (for the destination country). Whereas, the same person is called an emigrant for the country he is leaving. The difference is just in perspective.

What is Nationality?

Nationality is the status of a person showing that he/she belongs to a particular nation. Usually, the country of birth represents the nationality of a person. 

The role of nationality is to get someone identified in international law. For instance, someone is travelling to any foreign country; the nationality is often asked for legal purposes. 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides the right to nationality to everyone. Moreover, a person also has the right to change his nationality. 

As per the Indian Constitution, the people who were living in India at the time of the formation of the Constitution are the nationals of the country. The President is called the First Citizen of India. 

What is Citizenship?

Citizenship can be defined as the status of a person being a citizen of a particular nation. 

This might sound a bit similar to nationality but is entirely different. Let’s understand this with an example. 

Suppose you are an Indian by birth and living in India. Your nationality and citizenship both are India. But if you migrate to the US for the long term or permanently, you will need US citizenship. After migration, you will be a citizen of the US. However, your nationality still remains India. 

What is the Difference Between Citizenship and Nationality?

The people belonging to a particular nation or born in that nation hold both nationality and citizenship of that country. One can change his citizenship by moving to another country. However, nationality can’t be changed. So, citizenship is a kind of legal and judicial concept. 

Another difference between nationality and citizenship is that if you have become a citizen of another country, it can be reversed if you return to your own country. But nationality doesn’t change in any case. For instance, Sunita Williams is the national of India, but since she moved to the US, she became a citizen of America. 

Some people also ask or wonder about the nationality and citizenship of Priyanka Chopra Jonas. Is she a US citizen now? 

The answer is Priyanka Chopra is an Indian married to an American. However, she hasn’t changed her citizenship yet. She is living in the US with an employment visa. The proof of this is that she cast her vote in Lok Sabha Elections. Only Indian citizens are allowed to cast votes in India. 

Some countries also offer dual citizenship, like Australia, Canada, Hungary, Italy, to name a few. However, India doesn’t allow dual citizenship. So if you hold Indian citizenship, you can’t become a citizen of another country without leaving the current citizenship status. 

Wrapping Up:

Hope this article helped you understand the difference between nationality and citizenship, and cleared your doubts about immigration. These are some standard terms that everybody must know, especially the law aspirants doing CLAT preparation or pursuing a career in law. 

For any questions related to nationality vs citizenship or immigration, feel free to ask using the comments below. 

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