Citizenship and Alien Status Requirements Specific to Program

Citizenship and Alien Status - For Food Benefits

Revised July 10, 2015


This section describes which immigrants are eligible for benefits through federally-funded Basic Food and state-funded Food Assistance Program.

WAC 388-424-0020 How does my alien status impact my eligibility for federally-funded Basic Food benefits?

WAC 388-424-0030 How does my alien status impact my eligibility for state-funded benefits under the food assistance program?

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-424-0030

If a client does not provide proof of the alien status of someone in the assistance unit (AU), the client can withdraw the application or apply for Basic Food without that person. That person is an ineligible AU member under WAC 388-408-0035. Please refer to the VERIFICATION chapter for general rules regarding documentation.

We must deem income to a sponsored immigrant who is not exempt from deeming requirements under WAC 388-450-0156. This includes a sponsored immigrant who is eligible for federal benefits based on being a qualified alien who has lived in the U. S. for five years, if they do not have 40 qualifying quarters of work or qualify for a different exemption.

  1. Proof of alien status:
  2. Income of immigrants and their sponsors:
    • See WAC 388-450-0140  for treatment of income of AU members who are ineligible to receive federally funded Basic Food due to alien status.
    • See WAC 388-450-0160  for treatment of income of a sponsored alien's sponsor.
  3. Deeming requirements for sponsored immigrants: 
    NOTE: An immigrant who is an ineligible member of a federally-funded Basic Food AU should not have his sponsor's income and resources deemed to eligible AU members.
​NOTE: We must deem resources in addition to income when the AU is not Categorically Eligible (CE) as defined inWAC 388-414-0001. See WAC 388-470-0070  for deeming sponsor resources.

4. ​​When a “qualified alien” child turns 18 before being in the U.S. for five years: 

  • If the immigrant turns age 18 before they have been in the U.S. for five years, they must meet one of the other requirements under WAC 388-424-0020  to keep getting Basic Food benefits.
  • The immigrant regains eligibility for benefits after they have been in the U.S. for five years or meet one of the other criteria under WAC 388-424-0020.

5. ​"Lawfully residing"

  • A qualified alien;
  • An alien who has been inspected and admitted and who has not violated the terms of that admission;
  • A parolee (for less than 1 year), except those paroled pending a determination of excludability or for prosecution;
  • A Lawful Temporary Resident;
  • A person under Temporary Protected Status;
  • A Cuban-Haitian entrant;
  • A Family Unity beneficiary:
  • A person granted Deferred Enforced Departure;
  • A person in Deferred Action;
  • An alien who is the spouse or child of a U. S. citizen, whose visa petition has been approved and who has a pending application for adjustment of status;
  • An applicant for asylum or for withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture, who has been granted employment authorization or who is under the age of 14 and has had an application pending for at least 180 days.

6.  Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants (SIVs): For more information on documentation, Immigration Status codes, benefit eligibility and step-by-step process, please see desk aid Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants Benefits

7.  Haitian Entrants vs. Haitian Nationals Granted Temporary Protected Status:

  • Haitian Entrants granted status under section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 are qualified aliens and eligible for Basic Food benefits if they meet all other eligibility requirements.
  • Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program Entrants granted status under section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 are qualified aliens and eligible for Basic Food benefits if they meet all other eligibility requirements.
  • Haitian Nationals Granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are not eligible for federal SNAP benefits.  These persons are PRUCOL as described under WAC 388-424-0001 and cannot receive Basic Food.


Citizenship and Alien Status - For Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Revised April 16, 2019


This section provides information on how a person’s immigration status affects their eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

WAC 388-424-0010 Citizenship and alien status - Eligibility for TANF

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-424-0010

  1. Provide clients who are Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) with information about naturalization assistance services offered by local community agencies through the DSHS Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance.  See the Social Services Manual, SSI Facilitation - Facilitation Process - SSI Facilitation Process for more information on the Department’s naturalization assistance program.

  2. Take a client’s declaration of U.S. citizenship at face value.  Don’t routinely request proof of citizenship unless there is a specific and substantive reason to, such as an inconsistency in a client's statements or in the information presented on their application for benefits.

  3. Consider immigrants, who are not eligible for federal TANF because of the five-year bar on federal benefits, for the state funded benefits programs. 

  1. The following non-qualified aliens are lawfully present and aren’t eligible for TANF, but could be eligible for state funded benefits, if they meet all other eligibility criteria:

    • Pending applicants for Asylum, or Withholding of Deportation/Removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) if :

      • Over age 14 with an approved work authorization or
      • Under 14 and their application has been pending for 180 days or more;
  • Aliens granted withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT);

  • Aliens paroled into the U.S. for less than 1 year;

  • Aliens in current Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Aliens granted deferred action status, with the exception of Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA);

  • Family Unity beneficiaries;

  • A child who has a pending application for Special Immigrant Juvenile status;

  • Citizens of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.  These persons have special rights under compacts of Free Association and are lawfully allowed to enter, reside and work in the U.S., but they aren’t U.S. citizens or nationals.  They are lawfully present non-qualified aliens unless they have some other immigration status.

  • "U" visa holders;

  • Religious workers under section 101(a)(15)(R) of the INA;

  • An individual with a petition pending for 3 years or more, as permitted under section 101(a)(15)(V) of the INA;

  • A fiancé of a citizen, as permitted under section 101(a)(15)(K) of the INA;

  • Other aliens with a current nonimmigrant status

EXAMPLE A client applying for benefits has an I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) stamp with a "B2" code that is not expired.  According to the NILC Guide, "B2" signifies tourist status.  A person with a tourist status is a lawfully present nonimmigrant and, if otherwise eligible may qualify for benefits. However, an alien with B2 visa is in the U.S. only temporary and doesn’t meet Washington state residency requirements,

EXAMPLE A five-person family applies for benefits.  The father has a Lawful Permanent Resident card (I-551), but the mother and three children only have Employment Authorization Documents (EADs).  All four EADs are coded "A15".  According to the NILC Guide, the "A-15" code indicates "V" status.  These are spouses and children of lawful permanent residents whose visa petitions have been pending for at least three years.  Immigrants with "V" status are lawfully present non-qualified aliens.  These immigrants may qualify for state benefits.  The father may be eligible for federal benefits depending on other factors such as date of entry into the U.S.

EXAMPLE A mother and child applied for benefits. The mother has a valid I-94 Arrival/Departure form stamped with a "U" visa.  The child would likely have been included as a dependent on the mother's U visa application.  Both mother and child are considered "lawfully residing" and may be eligible for state benefits.


  1. Immigrant children and pregnant women, who are:

    • lawfully present non-qualified aliens, as defined in WAC 388-424-0001; and

    • meet residency requirements of WAC 388-468-0005

      are eligible for federally funded medical benefits, unless they are approved under Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA). 

  2. Staff should check eligibility for State Family Assistance (SFA) and Food Assistance Program (FAP), when an applicant is a Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) individual.

NOTE: An Employment Authorization Document (EAD, USCIS form I-765), known popularly as a work permit, is a document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and it gives noncitizens a temporary authorization to work. EAD doesn’t confer immigration status, but for eligibility determination purposes, it indicates the client's current immigration status. 

Aliens with a variety of statuses may be issued an EAD.  Unless other current immigration document(s) are provided, an expired EAD means a person's immigration status has expired.  

For more information about I-765 EAD Category Codes please see Employment Authorization Document, Category Codes


If you have questions please contact Olga Walker at (360) 725-4641 or by e-mail at or Jared Beard at (360) 725-4617 or by e-mail at


Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-424-0010

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


  1. Gather all the information necessary to determine eligibility as described in WAC 388-424-0001WAC 388-424-0006WAC 388-424-0007WAC 388-424-0008, and WAC 388-424-0009. Document immigration status, date of entry, armed service/veteran status, work quarters, and SSN information in ACES. Inform any client who is subject to the five-year bar of the expiration date of their five-year bar and of the need to inform the Department if family members become citizens (including parents who have children under 18).
NOTE: Once the SSN is federally verified, ACES will send back to SSA to verify citizenship status.  If SSA cannot verify citizenship, MPA will receive an alert to work with the client to verify citizenship.
  1. For aliens who have an Affidavit of Support form (I-864) filled out on their behalf, be sure to determine work quarters and citizenship status. If the affidavit is still in effect:
  2. See WAC 388-450-0155 and WAC 388-450-0156  to determine if sponsor deeming applies;
  3. See WAC 388-450-0160  for treatment of the sponsor's income; and see WAC 388-470-0060  for treatment of the sponsor's resources.

ACES Procedures

Alien Emergency Medical

Citizenship and Alien Status for State Cash Programs

Revised June 15, 2012


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, and Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA) 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. Chemical dependency services are broadly available to legal immigrants.

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

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-424-0015

  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.

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-424-0015

  1. Related WACs:
    1. See WAC 388-450-0116  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.

Restrictions for State Medical Benefits– Medical Care Services and Pregnancy Medical

Revised January 25, 2012


This section provides information on how an alien's immigration status affects their eligibility for state medical programs.

Worker Responsibilities

  1. Provide information about naturalization assistance offered by the Refugee resettlement agencies and Community Based Organizations (CBO) for immigrants who are not eligible for federal benefits. For information on the Department’s naturalization assistance program, see the Social Services Manual, SSI Facilitation.