The Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage was arrested by US immigration officials on Sunday, who say he is British and has been living in the country illegally.

Authorities said the Grammy-nominated musician was a British national who had entered the US legally as a teenager in 2005 but failed to leave under the terms of a non-immigrant visa, which expired in July 2006.

According to Reuters, the rapper, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is in custody in Georgia, where he faces deportation proceedings in federal immigration courts.

Bryan Cox, a spokesperson for ICE, confirmed the arrest to the local Atlanta station WSB TV.

"Mr Abraham-Joseph was taken into Ice custody as he is unlawfully present in the US and also a convicted felon," Cox said.

The music star was convicted on felony drug charges in Georgia in 2014 and was arrested on Sunday as part of a targeted operation with the cooperation of local law enforcement.

ICE said it would "await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions".

The rapper's lawyer told Variety that he was a "role model."

"We are working diligently to get Mr Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with authorities to clear up any misunderstanding," she told the publication. 

"Mr. Abraham-Joseph is a role model to the young people in the country - especially in Atlanta, Georgia and is actively working in the community leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy."

21 Savage's most recent album, I Am > I Was, debuted at No 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.