Citizenship and Alien Status - Immigrant Eligibility Restrictions for State Cash Assistance and Chemical Dependency Programs – SFA, GA, and ADATSA
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Citizenship and Alien Status - Immigrant Eligibility Restrictions for State Cash Assistance and Chemical Dependency Programs – SFA, GA, and ADATSA

Revised June 15, 2012

Purpose: This section provides information on how an alien’s immigration status affects their eligibility for the State Family Assistance (SFA), Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) cash, Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA), and ADATSA programs. The purpose of SFA is to provide assistance to immigrants and others who are ineligible to receive TANF benefits because of the restrictions imposed under federal welfare reform. ABD provides assistance to disabled or aged individuals, including those who are ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due to immigrant or other restrictions. ADATSA chemical dependency services are broadly available to legal immigrants.

WAC 388-424-0015Immigrant eligibility restrictions for the State Family Assistance, ABD cash, PWA, and ADATSA programs.

WAC 388-424-0015

WAC 388-424-0015

Effective January 1, 2014

WAC 388-424-0015 Immigrant eligibility restrictions for the State Family Assistance, ABD cash and PWA programs.

  1. To receive State Family Assistance (SFA) benefits, you must be:
    1. A “qualified alien” as defined in WAC 388-424-0001 who is ineligible for TANF due to the five-year bar as described in WAC 388-424-0006 (3); or
    2. A nonqualified alien who meets the Washington state residency requirements as listed in WAC 388-468-0005, including a noncitizen American Indian who does not meet the criteria in WAC 388-424-0001.
  2. To receive   Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) cash or Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA) benefits, you must be:
    1. A U.S. citizen; 
    2. A U.S. national;
    3. An American Indian born outside the U.S.;
    4. A ”qualified alien” or similarly defined lawful immigrant such as victim of trafficking as defined in WAC 388-424-0001; or
    5. A nonqualified alien described in WAC 388-424-0001 who:
      1. Has verified their intent to stay in the United States indefinitely; and
      2. The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not taking steps to enforce their departure.

This is a reprint of the official rule as published by the Office of the Code Reviser. If there are previous versions of this rule, they can be found using the Legislative Search page.


  1.  ABD and PWA are broadly accessible to immigrants as long as they meet all other program requirements. Non-immigrants and undocumented aliens, as defined in WAC 388-424-0001, are not eligible for ABD or PWA.
  2. Becoming a citizen (naturalizing) is not a program requirement for any state or federal benefit. Generally, a client is not eligible to naturalize until 5 years after they have attained legal status, but there are some exceptions. Refugee resettlement agencies and Community Based Organizations (CBO) provide naturalization assistance to those immigrants receiving state or federal benefits so that they can become citizens. For more information, see the Social Services Manual SSI Facilitation Chapter,  for non-U.S. citizens. Immigrants who don’t become citizens and lose SSI due to expiration of seven years of refugee status (which also affects asylees, victims of trafficking, Cuban Haitian entrants, Amerasians, and those granted withholding of removal) will be provided ABD or TANF, Basic Food, and medical assistance, assuming they are otherwise eligible.


  1. Related WACs:
    1. See WAC 388-424-0016  for treatment of the income of household members who are ineligible to receive SFA due to their alien status.
    2. See WAC 388-450-0160 and WAC 388-470-0060  for treatment of income and resources of a sponsored alien’s sponsor.
  2. When a client reports a change in their status, update their alien status on the ALAS screen in ACES. It is particularly important to record changes in status for recipients of state-funded cash or medical programs, as these aliens may become eligible for federal programs as a result of this change in status.
Modification Date: June 15, 2012