Technically, you can be both an immigrant or an emigrant which makes the terms immigrant and emigrant quite confusing and influences the way we often use them incorrectly. The best way to remember the differences and explain the meanings is to think in terms of the direction of travel.
Someone who leaves a place for another emigrates. When you arrive in another place from elsewhere, you would have immigrated. Immigrants are new to a place, and may often refer to another place as their home or they are looked upon as foreigners in the new place. Those at home, when speaking of relatives who are living away from home, will be speaking of emigrants. Emigrants leave their homeland and begin living in another country. Immigrants are those people who used to live elsewhere and have settled in another country. On arrival at an international port of entry, you usually go through immigration, meaning that you are coming ‘from’ elsewhere.
To simplify the terms further, it may be easier to remember them by using prepositions. An emigrant, emigrates ‘to’ a place; whilst an immigrant, immigrates ‘from’ a place.
Being an emigrant or an immigrant sometimes has it’s consequences. Emigrants can be regarded as disloyal and unpatriotic as they leave their country for ‘greener pastures’. Immigrants find it difficult to gain acceptance in some societies as they will also carry the label of ‘foreigner’. Refugees are a group of people who are always caught in the middle of being both emigrants and immigrants combined.