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Migration and Home Affairs


In the global context, a person who, owing to irregular entry, breach of a condition of entry or the expiry of their legal basis for entering and residing, lacks legal status in a transit or host country.
In the EU context, a third-country national present on the territory of a Schengen State who does not fulfil, or no longer fulfils, the conditions of entry as set out in the Regulation (EU) 2016/399 (Schengen Borders Code) or other conditions for entry.


Global context: Developed by EMN
EU context: Derived by EMN from the definition of ‘illegal stay’ in Art. 3 of Directive 2008/115/EC (Return Directive).


  • BG: незаконен мигрант
  • CS: neregulérní migrant
  • DE: irregulärer Migrant
  • EL: παράτυπος μετανάστης
  • EN: irregular migrant
  • ES: inmigrante en situación irregular
  • ET: ebaseaduslikult riigis viibiv isik
  • FI: säännöstenvastaisesti / laittomasti maassa oleskeleva henkilö
  • FR: migrant en séjour irrégulier
  • GA: imirceach neamhrialta
  • HU: irreguláris migráns
  • IT: migrante irregolare
  • LT: neteisėtas migrantas
  • LV: neatbilstīgs migrants (EU acquis); nelikumīgs migrants (national)
  • MT: Migrant(a) irregolari
  • NL: illegaal verblijvende migrant / onregelmatig of irregulier verblijvende migrant
  • PL: migrant nieregularny
  • PT: imigrante irregular
  • RO: migrant ilegal
  • SK: neregulárny migrant / nelegálny migrant / migrant bez platného povolenia na pobyt
  • SL: nezakoniti migrant / ilegalni migrant
  • SV: irreguljär migrant
  • NO: irregulær migrant


  • clandestine migrant
  • illegal migrant
  • insufficiently documented migrant
  • migrant in an irregular siuation
  • migrant with irregular status
  • unauthorised migrant
  • undocumented migrant

Broader Term(s)

Narrower Term(s)

Related Term(s)


1. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) defines the term 'migrant in an irregular situation' as follows: A person who moves or has moved across an international border and is not authorized to enter or to stay in a State pursuant to the law of that State and to international agreements to which that State is a party.
2. The term 'irregular' is preferable to 'illegal' migrant because the latter carries a criminal connotation, entering a country in an irregular manner, or staying with an irregular status, is not a criminal offence but an infraction of administrative regulations. Apart from this, juridically and ethically, an act can be legal or illegal but a person cannot. Thus more and more the term 'migrant in an irregular situation' or 'migrant with irregular status' is preferred.
3. The European Commission has used the term 'third-country national found to be illegally present' or 'illegally resident/staying third-country national' in legislation.
4. The Council of Europe differentiates between illegal migration and irregular migrant. Referring to Resolution 1509 (2006) of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, ‘illegal’ is preferred when referring to a status or process, whereas 'irregular' is preferred.