I am looking for a word or phrase to describe someone who is born in a country or place, but is ethnically not a native of that place, isn't accepted as a genuine local native in society, and may not even be a citizen of that place in countries that do not give people citizenship based upon the place of their birth.

These individuals aren't "expatriates", who would generally be born abroad and often living in a place only temporarily.

Some of these people would be "second generation immigrants", but conceivably someone could be a third or later generation immigrant and could still be viewed and treated this way, and many second generation immigrants would be assimilated, particularly if they had one native born parent and one immigrant parent.

Some countries have terms for people with this place in society who are from a particular ethnic group in a particular country (e.g. Koreans in Japan), but those words don't cover the general concept.

  • So, the cultural identity of this unassimilated generation remains that of their parents and grandparents? Or are they in some transitional stage?
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 5 at 18:50
  • I don't think there's a general term for this in English. We use terms that are specific to the place of origin, e.g. Italian-American for an American whose family came from Italy. But the term doesn't distinguish the immigrants from their descendants.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 5 at 19:19
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    @TimR Not so much a transitional stage as not accepted by ethnic majority locals as part of the people associated with the country, even if the native born ethnically different person is, for example, fully fluent in the local language. Image a blond, blue eyed ethnically Swedish person who was born in and lived their whole life in Uganda, for example, if local culture rejects them as a true "native."
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 5 at 19:25
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    They are outsiders, in the view of bigots. Commented Jun 6 at 0:19
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    I believe that in Britain you would have people saying a person is British as long as they were born and raised in the UK. This naturally includes people whose families emigrated from Asia, India and Africa. (Indians are from Asia but in the UK they are considered a separate group mainly for historical reasons)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 7 at 7:01

2 Answers 2


Taking it straight from the question, I think native-born foreigner is as close as you can get - there is no single word for it. The country-specific forms like “French-born Japanese” are commonly used.


The concept itself might need some explanation for people from countries where it doesn’t make much sense (e.g., the US), but anyone who understands the concept should see how the term accurately describes it.

Here is a video by a person who describes herself as a “foreigner born and raised in Japan” (日本で生まれ育った外国人)


  • You acknowledge that there are countries where this term 'doesn’t make much sense', but can you be more specific as to where it is actually used? It may also be useful to clarify whether, at the places where it is actually used, it is is purely descriptive.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jun 8 at 15:17
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    There is just one hit on Google for "he is a native born foreigner". Yes, you would have a difficult time convincing people that someone born and raised in a country is still a foreigner. Maybe that kind of narrow-thinking exists in other cultures but it doesn't exist in the UK nor in Italy.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 8 at 21:30
  • It seems to me that the video, which is in Japanese with Japanese subtitles, proves people who do not physically look like Japanese even if they were born and raised in that country, will never be fully accepted or integrated into their culture.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 9 at 7:50
  • After the edit it has become clear that, as one may have suspected, this is not a term that is standardly used in any English-speaking country. Its only use in English seems to be as the translation of a Japanese term.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jun 9 at 15:16
  • native-born foreigner? That is a total oxymoron.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 9 at 18:33

Such people can be described as "of X [ethnic] origin" where X can be a nationality or ethnicity.

the website "Statistics Canada" gives

Ethnic origin refers to the ethnic or cultural origins of the person's ancestors. An ancestor is usually more distant than a grandparent.

and later

Ethnic or cultural origin refers to the ethnic or cultural origins of the person's ancestors. Ancestors may have Indigenous origins, or origins that refer to different countries, or other origins that may not refer to different countries.

Thus, for example, a child born in the UK of Nigerian parents is ethnically Nigerian, or more precisely "Yoruba", if their ancestors were from that tribe.

  • In the US they would be referred to as "Nigerian American" Commented Jun 7 at 6:50
  • @DJClayworth Not more simply, African-American or West Africans?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 7 at 6:53
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    Could be, if they weren't being specific. But "African American" is often just a euphemism for "Black". Commented Jun 7 at 6:56
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    Would someone who was a 2nd or 3rd generation American, even identify themselves in a census as Nigerian American? What if only one parent was born in Nigeria would that adult born and raised in the US identify themself as Nigerian American? I doubt it. I don't hear or read about people whose parents or grandparents emigrated from Japan identifying as Japanese-American, but as Asian or Asian-American.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 7 at 7:23
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    @Mari-LouA The categories listed on forms aren't as nuanced as the reality.Plenty of Japanese-Americans have thought of themselves as Japanese and not the wider "Asian"; there are different Japanese words for first-generation, second-generation, third-generation immigrant from Japan.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 8 at 9:41

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