Date of Entry

Revised March 25, 2011


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 and which groups are not. 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.
    A person is not subject to the five-year bar for TANF or medical assistance if he entered the U.S. before August 22, 1996 even if he did not obtain a “qualified” immigration status until some time after he entered. As long as a person “continuously resided” in the U.S. from the earlier date, that date will be considered the “date of entry”. Continuously resided means the person may only have left the U.S. for short periods of time.
    However, an applicant for federal BF who became “qualified” on or after August 22, 1996 and who requires 5 years of residency for eligibility, cannot count years of residence before he became a “qualified alien” toward his 5 year residency requirement.
EXAMPLE: A person came to the U.S. in 1992 as an undocumented alien and resided in the U.S. since that time, making annual trips to her country of origin to visit parents. In July 1999 she self-petitioned under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and received a notice that she and her children have a “prima facie case” (see WAC 388-424-0001).  She is a "qualified alien" and not subject to the five- year bar because her entry date is 1992. She and her children are eligible for TANF and medical.  Since she is not currently eligible for federal Basic Food under any other provision of the law (not an armed services member or veteran or married to one) she will become eligible in July 2004, after 5 years residency as a “qualified alien”. Her children are eligible now. (See WAC 388-424-0020 for a complete description of federal Basic Food eligibility.)
EXAMPLE: A person came to the U.S. in 1992 as a visitor for three months. The person came again in 1994 as a student and returned to his country of origin in 1995. He came to the U.S. again after he obtained lawful permanent resident status on October 10, 2001. He did not continuously reside in the U.S. prior to August 22, 1996. His date of entry is October 10, 2001. He is not a veteran or on active duty in the U.S. military (or the spouse or dependent child of such a person). He is barred from TANF, non-emergency Medicaid, and SCHIP for five years until September 30, 2006.
  1. How to determine the date a battered immigrant becomes a “qualified alien."
    For immigrants such as parolees, refugees, and asylees, the date that they become a “qualified alien” is on their I-94 card and later on their lawful permanent resident (“green”) card. However, the date that 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 will not be the same as the date the alien was granted lawful permanent residence and will not be the date on the green card.
EXAMPLE: A person came to the U.S. in 1997 as an undocumented alien. She married a lawful permanent resident who received notice of his family visa petition on March 1, 1998. She is a victim of domestic violence and no longer living with him. She has not yet adjusted to lawful permanent residence and does not have her green card. The date she became "qualified" is March 1, 1998 because that is the date of the family visa petition. Her five-year bar will be over on February 28, 2003. (When she has her adjustment interview on June 1, 2003 that will be the date on her green card.)
  1. Aliens who are exempt from the five-year bar. Those who are exempt from the five-year bar due to immigration status (refugee, asylee, withholding of deportation/removal, Cuban/Haitian entrant, Special Immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan, and Amerasian lawful permanent resident) remain exempt after they have adjusted to lawful permanent residence and have a "green card". The code on their green card will tell under what provision of law they came to the U.S.  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.
EXAMPLE: A refugee came to the U.S. on September 1, 1999. One year after coming to the U.S. he adjusted to lawful permanent residence. His green card is dated to his date of entry and has the code “RE-6”, for refugee (see page 70 in the NILC Guide in Appendix II). He is not subject to the five-year bar, even though he is currently a lawful permanent resident.

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-424-0006 

  1. You may use whatever document the client provides if you decide it adequately confirms residence in the U.S. A person claiming to have continuously resided in the U.S. may use many types of proof such as, but not limited to:
    1. Medical records;
    2. Pay Stubs;
    3. School records;
    4. Tax records; or
    5. Utility bills.
  2. You may accept a written and signed statement from the client when the client is unable to provide any proof and has experienced special circumstances. 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.