Area of Law:
Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States constitution and federal immigration law, people are classified as either citizens or aliens. Citizens include people who are either born or naturalized in the United States, and all others are considered aliens.
Aliens are further classified according to their immigration status and given different rights and obligations, such as the right to work and live in this country. Aliens include lawful permanent residents, visa holders, temporary visitors, and undocumented illegal aliens.
An alien wishing to enter the United States must first get a visa from a United States consulate or embassy. Visas grant the holder set lengths of time that they may legally be in the United States, or they may also be issued for a specific purpose. The various types of visas issued to aliens include:
- Immigrant visas, which allow their holders to remain in the United States permanently and apply for citizenship. Aliens who have immigrant visas, also known as green cards, may legally be employed in the United States.
- Non-immigrant visas are issued to temporary visitors. This type of visa does not allow its holder to legally work in the United States.
- H-1B visas or certain student visas, which authorize their holders to work in the United States.
People born in the state of Tennessee are automatically United States citizens, but aliens residing in the state may also be able to become citizens through the naturalization process. This process requires meeting the following requirements:
- Lawful permanent resident status
- Continuous residency in the United States for three to five years
- Exhibited good moral character during residency in the United States
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Must have been physically present in the United States for 18 to 30 months
- Resident of Tennessee continuously for at least three months
- Upon filing the application for naturalization, must live in the United States for the entire time from application to the granting of citizenship
The publication "A Guide to Naturalization," provides valuable information on becoming a United States citizen for aliens throughout the country, including those residing in Tennessee. The guide should be read before filling out the application for naturalization.
Someone who wants to go through the naturalization process in Tennessee must fill out United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for N-400 and send it to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox Facility at the following address:
P.O. Box 660060
Dallas, TX 75266
Before filling out form N-400, it is advisable that an applicant for United States citizenship review the instructions for Form N-400, found at uscis.gov.
According to the Immigration Policy Center website, Tennessee is home to approximately 248,483 immigrants, 32.3 percent of whom are naturalized citizens. This number equals the approximate total population of Lincoln, Nebraska. For more information on citizenship and navigating the naturalization process while residing in Tennessee, go to the Issuu website.