Also known as an ‘A-Number’, an Alien Registration Number is a seven to nine digit number that can be found on a variety of documents from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS uses the Alien Registration Number to track files for immigrants (and some non-immigrants). It’s also important when people are dealing with forms requesting immigration benefits.
There are many scenarios that relate to A-numbers, so we’ve put this article together to answer all your questions around the Alien Registration Number including: who needs one, where you can find it on documentation, and how and why it is used.
Who Gets An Alien Registration Number?
Alien Registration Numbers are assigned to everyone who applies for a green card. All immigrants who intend to live permanently in the United States get an Alien Registration Number.
In addition to this, international students on an F-1 visa also get an A-number, even though they are only there on a temporary basis.
(Other temporary visitors to the United States, for example people using a business or tourist visa, are not issued an Alien Registration Number because they’re short-term visitors, not permanent immigrants.)
When Do You Get An Alien Registration Number?
When Applying for a Green Card
Most people are first given an Alien Registration Number when they apply for a green card.
F-1 Student Visa Holders
If someone works in the US on an F-1 student visa, they will be issued their A-number at that point. (If they then go on to apply for a green card, they are not issued with a second A-number- the one that was originally issued remains in use.)
Spouse of a US Citizen
People married to a US citizen need to file a green card application form and should receive their Alien Registration Number after about 30 days.
Spouse of a Green Card Holder
People married to an existing green card holder need to first have their I-130 petition approved.
This is when a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States files a Petition for Alien Relative, with USCIS, to establish the existence of a relationship to an alien relative who wishes to immigrate to the United States.
Once that is approved, they must then apply for a green card. People in those scenarios can expect to receive their A-number about a year after they start this process.
What Does an Alien Registration Number Look Like?
Your A-number is a 7, 8, or 9-digit number.
What is an Alien Registration Number Card?
There is actually no such thing as an ‘alien registration number card’. The alien registration number appears on various documents, but it does not have its own specific card. Sometimes people use the term ‘Alien Registration Number card’ instead of referring to other related documents such as a green card or visa, for example, but this isn’t correct. The A-number may appear on these documents, but they are not ‘alien registration number cards’.
Where Is Your Alien Registration Number?
So how do you find your Alien Registration number?
Your A-Number Is On All USCIS Correspondence
Once you’ve applied for a green card, your A-Number will be on all of the documents that USCIS sends you.
On the Immigrant Data Summary and USCIS Immigrant Fee handout
If you apply from outside the United States, you’ll find your A-number on the Immigrant Data Summary and USCIS Immigrant Fee handout provided to you during your consular interview.
A-Number In Your Passport
You’ll find your A-number on the visa stamped in your passport once your application is approved.
A-Number On Your Green Card
Your A-number will appear on the front of your green card.
On Your Work Permit (EAD, aka Employment Authorization Document)
It will appear under the heading ‘USCIS#’ on your EAD.
What Is The Difference Between A ‘USCIS Number’ and An ‘Alien Registration Number’?
The key difference is that your Alien Registration Number is assigned to you as an individual and remains the same for life, whereas a USCIS number is assigned to track a specific application or immigration status, and you will be issued a different one for each application.
For example you would be given a USCIS number for a green card application (when you are granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis) and a separate USCIS number if you later applied for US citizenship. Your Alien Registration number would be the same on each occasion.
Do Students on F-1 Visas Need an Alien Registration Number?
People on F-1 student visas, even though they are not applying for green cards and may only be staying a short time, are given an Alien Registration Number.
What Is The H-1B Visa?
The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. (A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires the application of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree, or the equivalent of work experience.)
H-1B applicants need to have their employer file the PERM application and I-140 (the document filed with USCIS to petition for employment-based permanent residence, granting you a green card) then USCIS will assign them an Alien Registration Number.
An H-4 visa is a United States visa issued to dependent family members of H-1B visa holders, to allow them to travel to the US to accompany or reunite with the principal visa holder.
H-4 holders do not get assigned an Alien Registration Number. Only the primary H-1B holder has one.
This should answer all the most common questions around Alien Registration Numbers, but if you need assistance with anything relating to your A-Number, please do not hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.