Nolan v Minister for Immigration & Ethnic Affairs[1988] HCA 45

In Nolan v Minister for Immigration & Ethnic Affairs [1988] HCA 45 it was observed that, as a matter of etymology, “alien” means belonging to another place. This is not a reference to a person’s feelings of connection, however strong. It is not a reference to perceptions, to how a person might be understood by others to have a connection to a country. Rather it describes a person’s lack of formal legal relationship with the community or body politic of the country with which they contend to have a connection. In the United States the meaning attributed to “alien” has been said to be “one born out of the United States, who has not since been naturalized under the constitution and laws”.  The court held that nationality by descent is an independent basis for a person to be an Australian national, and acknowledged an express exception for persons born overseas with Australian parentage from being aliens.

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