In ordinary use chiefly applied to those who speak a foreign language as their native tongue; thus in England the term is not commonly understood to include Americans. [OED]
In American English from 1620s through mid-19c., however, it was used of a person from a different colony or state. Earlier as a noun in English was simple foreign (early 14c.), probably from Old French, which used the adjective as a noun meaning "foreigner;" also "outskirts; the outside world; latrine, privy." Spelling furriner, representing pronunciation, is from 1832, originally in Irish dialect pieces but by 1840s picked up by American dialect writers (Thomas Chandler Haliburton).
updated on September 25, 2018