Date of Entry

Revised April 16, 2019


This section explains how to determine an alien’s “date of entry” into the United States. It describes which groups of aliens are subject to the five-year bar on receipt of federal means-tested benefits. Finally, it describes how to determine the date on which the five-year bar begins.

WAC 388-424-0006 Citizenship and alien status - Date of Entry

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-424-0006 

  1. Determining whether a person has entered the U.S. before August 22, 1996.
    For the majority of aliens the date they entered the U.S. and became a “qualified alien” is on their I-94 card or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stamp in their passport, on a Refugee Transportation Letter as a “Date of Entry”, and on their Permanent Resident card as a “Resident Since” date.

A person is not subject to the five-year bar for TANF, or medical assistance if they entered the U.S. before August 22, 1996, even if they did not obtain a “qualified” immigration status until sometime after they entered. As long as the alien “continuously resided” in the U.S. from the earlier date, that date is considered the “date of entry”. “Continuously resided” means the alien only left the U.S. for short periods of time.

However, an applicant for federal Basic Food (SNAP) benefits, who became “qualified” on or after August 22, 1996, and who requires 5 years of residency for eligibility, can’t count time spent in the U.S. before they became a “qualified alien” toward the five-year bar requirement.

EXAMPLE: Alex came to the U.S. in 1992 as a visitor for six months. He came again in 1994 for 1 year as a student and then returned to his country of origin in 1995. Alex came to the U.S. again after he obtained lawful permanent resident status on October 10, 2001. Alex didn’t continuously reside in the U.S. prior to August 22, 1996. His date of entry is October 10, 2001. He isn’t a veteran or on active duty in the U.S. military (or the spouse or dependent child of such a person). Alex is barred from TANF, Basic Food, and non-emergency Medicaid for five years until September 30, 2006.
  1. Aliens who have the five-year bar.

    All aliens, who are lawfully present in the U.S. and aren’t included in the statuses named in WAC 388-424-0006, Citizenship and alien status—Date of entry have a five-year bar on receipt of Basic Food, TANF, and non-emergency Medicaid.

  2. How to determine the date a Victim of Trafficking becomes a qualified alien.

    A victim of human trafficking becomes a “qualified alien” on the certification date stated on a Certification Letter for adults, or a Letter of Eligibility for minors from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The “certification date” on the Letter is also the benefits eligibility date.

EXAMPLE: Elena came to the U.S. in January 2007 on H1B visa as a temporary employee of an IT firm in NY. Instead, she was forced to work in a sweatshop. After 2 years, Elena received assistance from local legal and volunteer agencies. In 2010 Elena was granted a Victim of Trafficking status and received a Certification Letter from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The “certification date” on the letter was June 15, 2010. This is the date Elena became a qualified alien and met immigration status requirements for federally funded assistance.
  1. How to determine the date an asylee becomes a qualified alien.

    The date an asylee becomes a “qualified alien” is the date -

    • Stated on an Asylum Approval Letter, from a USCIS Asylum Office, as the date asylum was granted under §208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA);

    • Immigration Judge decided to grant asylum under §208 of the INA, if  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has NOT appealed the decision;
EXAMPLE: Maggie came to the U.S. in 2006 as a student. She applied for asylum with USCIS on September 1, 2008, and 11 months later received a USCIS decision granting  her asylum. A USCIS letter stated her asylum approval date was August 26, 2009. On this date Maggie became a qualified alien and met immigration status eligibility requirement for federally funded assistance.


  1. How to determine the date a battered immigrant becomes a “qualified alien."
    The date a battered alien becomes “qualified” is the date of the approval (or notice of prima facie case) of a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petition or the date that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse petitioned for the family visa application. These dates aren’t the same as the date the alien was granted lawful permanent residence and aren’t the date on the Permanent Resident card.

EXAMPLE: Rosa Maria came to the U.S. in 2017 as a student. She married a lawful permanent resident, who received notice of his family visa petition on March 1, 2018. She became a victim of domestic violence and is no longer lives with her abuser husband. She hasn’t yet adjusted to lawful permanent residence and doesn’t have her green card. The date she became "qualified" is March 1, 2017 because that’s the date of the family visa petition. Her five-year bar will be over on February 28, 2022. (When she has her adjustment interview on June 1, 2022, her green card, or Resident Alien Card USCIS form I-551, will have that date as a Resident Since date.)


  1. Aliens who are exempt from the five-year bar.

    Aliens exempt from the five-year bar due to immigration status are listed in WAC 388-424-0006, Citizenship and alien status—Date of entry. Aliens with a status of refugee, asylee, withholding of deportation/removal, Cuban/Haitian entrant, Special Immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan, and Amerasian remain exempt after they’ve adjusted to lawful permanent resident status. The “category” or “class” code on their Permanent Resident Alien (“green”) card identifies under which provision of law they came into the U.S.  For more information on immigration documentation, status codes, benefit eligibility and step-by-step process, please see immigration desk aids located on the CSD website.

EXAMPLE: Lai came to the U.S. as a refugee on September 1, 1999. One year later she adjusted to lawful permanent residence status. Her Permanent Resident card shows her date of entry as September 1, 1999 and has the category code “RE-6”, for “refugee” (see page 70 in the NILC Guide in Appendix II). Lai is not subject to the five-year bar, even though she is currently a lawful permanent resident.

If you have questions regarding eligibility, or how to process a medical only case, please contact Dody McAlpine in the HCA Office of Medicaid, Medicare Eligibility & Policy at (360) 725-9964 or by e-mail at 

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-424-0006 

  1. Always ask the client for their INS Number, also known as Alien Number, or Alien Registration number, or USCIS # number. It’s a unique number assigned by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to each alien admitted to the United States, or who came into contact with the agency (Example: application for asylum). It’s usually begins with an “A” followed by seven, eight or nine digits number and it is listed on all documents and/or DHS correspondence. Enter the INS Number and Date of Entry in corresponding 3G fields.

See the VERIFICATION chapter for further guidance.

For more information about verifying an asylee’s entry date, see “Asylum Documentation” under WAC 388-466-0005, Clarifying Information.