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Citizenship Verification

Citizenship Verification

The Tennessee Eligibility Verification for Entitlements Act (EVEA) became effective on October 1, 2012.  The EVEA requires state public institutions of higher education to verify that persons seeking a “state public benefit” are either a “United States citizen” or “lawfully present” in the United States. We must verify the citizenship or lawful presence of students who apply for admission for terms beginning Spring 2013 or later and are assigned a residency category that is eligible for state benefits.  (The term “state benefit” includes in-state tuition, lottery scholarship, academic scholarship, or any other form of tuition assistance or waiver funded with state-appropriated dollars.  State benefit does not include tuition assistance funded privately, such as a scholarship from the institution’s foundation or a privately endowed scholarship.)

Documentation can be submitted directly to the Admissions office, scanned/photographed and uploaded through the Secure Document Upload tool (available within myPellissippi), or mailed to 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville, TN 37932. Fax and e-mailed documentation is not accepted.

We do not have to verify the citizenship or lawful presence of students who

  • Are under 18 years of age and have not graduated from high school and are applying as dual enrollment students, joint enrollment students, or academically talented/gifted students; OR
  • Have not applied to receive in-state tuition, or a scholarship, grant, loans, tuition or fee waiver, or other financial assistance which is subsidized or paid in whole or in part with state funds; OR
  • Have had their lawful presence verified through the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Approved Documentation to Fulfill the Requirement

Verification procedures for all other students seeking a “state benefit”, U.S. citizenship, qualified alien status, or lawful presence shall be verified in one of the following ways:

  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for which the student’s U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizenship status is confirmed by the federal government.
  • Presenting a valid regular Tennessee driver license or photo identification (ID only) license. A Temporary Driver TN License, Temporary Identification License or Out of State License is NOT acceptable.
  • Presenting a valid, unexpired, Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) with ID picture;
  • A valid, unexpired, U.S. passport;
  • A certificate of citizenship (N560 or N561);
  • A certificate of naturalization (N550, N570, or N578);
  • A U.S. citizen identification card (I-197, I-179);
  • Valid, unexpired Foreign Passport with visa stamped “Processed for I-551”;
  • Non-Resident Alien Canadian Border Crossing Card;
  • Permanent Resident Re-Entry Permit (I-327);
  • Refugee Travel Document (I-571);
  • Valid, unexpired Foreign Passport with valid visa in a category that permits study at an institution of higher education;
  • Any other document determined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to be acceptable through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program created pursuant to the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.


One of the following documents together with a valid, government issued picture ID including a regular driver license, temporary driver license, government issued DL/ID card from any U.S. state, Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766);

  • Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) without ID picture;
  • An official birth certificate issued by a U.S. state, jurisdiction, or territory, except for Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010;
  • A U.S. government-issued certified birth certificate;
  • A U.S. certificate of birth abroad (DS-1350 or FS-545);
  • A reprint of birth abroad of a citizen of the U.S. (FS-240);
  • Arrival Record indicating Asylee/Refugee Status;
  • Notice of Approval of Status with bottom of I-94 portion attached (Form I-797).

How does the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” affect the EVEA? 

Those who are granted “deferred action” status are eligible for work authorization. They can also obtain social security cards, work authorization cards and, in some states, driver licenses. This deferred action status does NOT confer “lawful presence” status under federal law or Tennessee state law. Specifically, “deferred action status” does NOT satisfy the requirement of “lawful presence” under the EVEA.

Driver licenses, photo identification cards or work authorization cards issued on the basis of an individual’s deferred status are NOT sufficient to satisfy EVEA requirements. Tennessee grants Temporary Driver Licenses and Temporary Identification Licenses to persons in deferred action status. Those licenses, by themselves, do NOT satisfy EVEA requirements because they are not supported by adequate documentation to establish lawful presence.

Please review the approved legislation (PDF) for more details.

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Start Strong Center
Phone: 865-694-6400
Text: 865-270-6400

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