A free alien is a legal status applied to certain sentient aliens who, while barred from citizenship in the Republic, are not considered legally bonded into servitude. The vast majority of sentient aliens are servile in status. Most free aliens are of species that were vassals or clients to the Terran Empire, Empire of Orion, or Empire of Sagittarius prior to the Great War. Some, however, are from species that surrendered during the war and submitted to human hegemony; select individuals and populations from those species were conferred 'free alien' status to aid the reconstruction efforts.
The legal definition of a 'free alien' is described in the Alien Code, a development of various national law codes on the status and legal rights and restrictions of aliens in the human nations prior to the Great War. The Republic synthesized these codes into a single law, defining aliens as free or servile primarily on the basis of race. Certain species were codified entirely as free aliens, while certain species were codified almost entirely as servile. Individual servile aliens can, through manumission by their owners and then by petition to the Alien Affairs bureau, become free. This status was granted after the war to enslaved aliens and prisoners of war who possessed particular and useful skills, or demonstrated particularly good behaviour during their time in captivity and enslavement.
Free aliens are composed primarily of the following categories:
- Members of species which had been client races of the human predecessor states.
- Individuals belonging to servile races, who had been freed prior to 3275.
- Individuals granted manumission.
- Individuals born to two free aliens.
- Individuals legally adopted by human citizens.
- Individuals born to human-alien married couples.
In the last case, the general restriction of human-alien marriages have rendered it an almost nonexistent category. However, the law does allow for limited instances of human-alien marital and sexual relationships to exist, with provision for special dispensations to be acquired through successful and simultaneous petition to several government ministries, specifically the Bureau of Alien Affairs and the Bureau of Children and Families. Very few citizens desire or have acquired such dispensation, one of the few prominent examples being Dr. Mario Joseph Seilon. Seilon had entered into a long-term domestic partnership with a free alien, whom he legally married in 3284 pursuant to his successful application to these two bureaus. Early the next year she bore twin children, genetic clones of her tissue, who are entitled to free alien status due to Seilon's legal parentage.