In the following article we will walk you through the useful information on the following:
- Who is an ‘alien’ and what does it mean to be one in the U.S.?
- What is an Alien Registration Number?
- What does it mean to have an Alien Registration Number?
- Where can you find this number on your document ?(e.g. Green Card)
- What are the other documents you can find your Alien Registration Number on?
- Can you find your A-number on an H-1B visa?
- How do you get an Alien Number, if you don’t have it already?
- Do you really need to get an A-number?
We will also provide you with an answer to “Is Alien Registration Number same as I 94 and is there something else you should know about Alien Numbers”? And last but not least, we will guide you through the importance and convenience of using professional citizenship and immigration services before you apply for an Alien Registration Number.
Who is an ‘alien’ and what does it mean to be one in the U.S.?
Contrary to the common opinion, an alien doesn’t necessarily need to be a mysterious creature with a green antenna. There’s is a mundane, lexical meaning of an alien. It means stranger. In the context of his article, it refers to the legal status of a person.
An alien is considered a person, who is not a citizen or a national of a given country. There are several types of aliens: legal alien, nonresident alien, temporary resident alien, permanent resident alien, illegal alien, and alien enemy.
The last two are not the topic of this article and the first four are touched upon only in the light of the main topic: an Alien Registration Number. Being an alien in the U.S. means you have to go through a specific set of procedures to legalize your stay or work.
What is an Alien Registration Number?
An Alien Registration Number comes down to this unique seven-, eight- or nine-digit number assigned to a noncitizen by this special U.S. federal executive department delegated to perform tasks related to public security called the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Getting your A-number is a process related to immigration services, such as work authorization, obtaining a permanent resident card (also known as Green Card), or any sort of registration procedure that an alien must go through.
This process involves contacting institutions and officials that work for them. The important one is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), a government agency, an immigration-related component of DHS designated to administer the immigration and naturalization system. USCIS assigns A-number to most immigrants that want to become a permanent resident.
Alien Registration Number was created to help keep track of all the different immigration applications, forms, petitions, etcetera, that one person may submit. It also works the other way: with A# you can track your immigration files (“alien files” or “a-files”) or your immigrant ancestors. The great news is once you get this number, you get to keep it forever.
Other names for an Alien Registration Number:
A#, A-number, Alien Registration Number, Alien Number
USCIS Number, USCIS #
or simply Registration Number
Important: If you are intending to stay in the US for a temporary amount of time such as a visit visa, work visa, or business visa then you will not get an Alien Registration Number. USCIS does not give A-Numbers to most immigrants who will only be in the U.S. temporarily (called “nonimmigrants”).
What does it mean to have an Alien Registration Number?
Being in a possession of an Alien Registration Number is certainly not the equivalent of citizenship, but it is an important first step for immigrants that want to legalize their stay and work in the U.S. Most people received their Alien Registration Numbers when they applied for a Green Card, which is, in turn, physical confirmation of their permanent resident status.
It is important not to confuse an A-number with the United States citizenship number (‘Certificate number’), which appears on The Certificate of Citizenship – a confirmation of the finalization of the naturalization process and is generally a red 6- to 8-digit alphanumeric number (reminder: A-number is a 9-digit number).
The process of obtaining an Alien Registration Number for immigrants consists of filing a number of forms.
For example, if you want to get a permanent resident card (Green Card) you need to fill in an online immigration form. There are two online immigrant visa forms:
DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application
DS-261, Online Choice of Address and agent
If you want to get more information on the specificity of them and how to move forward with your process, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We are well aware that any sort of immigrant registration in the U.S., be it permanent residence or work authorization is a process that requires a designated amount of time and effort, contacting immigration services (USCIS) can be stressful, especially if you have trouble speaking English or are simply intimidated by the complexity of the official forms.
Where do I find my Alien Registration Number on a green card?
If you already are in the United States for a significant amount of time, at this point you probably wonder: Do I already have an Alien Registration Number?
As we covered in previous passages, Green Card Holders already. Besides that, your A-Number appears on a few different documents, such as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), your Immigrant Visa, or a Notice of Action. You can find your number on several types of government documents.
Please take a look below to see some examples:
- Green Cards (officially known as permanent residence cards) – If you are a Green Card Holder your number is listed on the front of the card. It can be also found on the back of the card. In this case, A-number is named ‘USCIS number’.
Remember, there are often many designs of Green Card, many specimens. As you can see, your A-number is not always found in the same place on a permanent resident card:
Designs issued after May 10, 2010:
What are the other documents I can find my A-number on?
Other documents where you can find your A# are:
- EAD cards (Employment Authorization Document, otherwise known as Work Permit). You can find it under the Given Name section. In this case, A-number is also named ‘USCIS number’.
- Immigrant Visas – You can find your A-number on the front of the card. Here A-number is named ‘Registration Number:
You can also find your A-number on:
- Immigrant Data Summary – this is a document that is a part of applying for a green card abroad, called Consular Processing, that happens when you apply in the U.S Embassy or Consulate. You can find the A-number on the Immigrant Data Summary Document.
- Immigration Fee Handout – this is another document that is a part of the above-mentioned Consular Processing.
- The A-number can be found in the top right-hand corner of the document. You can find your Alien Registration Number and Department of State (DOS) Case ID on your Immigrant Data Summary, USCIS Immigrant Fee handout, or immigrant visa stamp.
- When you attended your interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate, the DOS interviewing officer should have given you a USCIS Immigrant Fee Handout. This document provides instructions on how to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee.
As mentioned at the beginning, A-Number is usually a nine digit number used for an alien registration processes. However, in some instances, an Alien Registration Number may have less than nine digits.
In cases like this, when filing a form, you just enter ‘0’ (zero) in the required fields in front of your number. Example: your number is ‘1234567’, so you put two zeros in front of it leading to ‘001234567’. Just remember, what we learned before, that only certain noncitizens are issued A-numbers.
If you are a person who temporarily comes to the U.S., e.g. you come as a tourist or for business purposes, you are not issued an Alien Registration Number. A-numbers are issued to people who apply for family-based immigration visas, employment-based immigration visas, and for immigration visas for asylees or refugees.
- Notice of Action – You may find your A-number on some versions of Notice of Action. Similar to other documents issued by the federal government there are many versions of the design of documents. Below you can see the A-number marked in a red bracket, top right.
Important: If you’ve lost your Alien Registration Number, and you can’t find any USCIS documents, visas, or other paperwork that might contain it, you can use the system called the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain a copy of your immigration file, which will also include your A-number.
I have an H-1B visa and I cannot find my Alien Registration Number
Normally a person with an H visa doesn’t have an A-number unless prior to that you conducted registration for an F-1 student visa with an Optional Practical Training (OPT) and simultaneously you received an EAD prior to the H visa.
This is because H-1B visa falls into the category of temporary work visas (recipients of an H-1B visa can remain in the U.S. for three years at a time, but the stay can be extended to a maximum of six years), and Alien Registration Number is assigned only to people who file a visa application with the USA with the intent for permanent residence. Obtaining an Alien Registration Number for a student Visa U.S is also not necessary for the same reason.
A general rule reminder: temporary stay – no need for A-number.
How do I get an Alien Number, if I don’t have one?
The USCIS assigns people with this nine-digit number at the time they submit petitions for Green Card (permanent resident card) if they meet the conditions for getting them.
If you are an F-1 visa holder who has been granted employment authorization to work through the OPT program, you will be issued an A-number after you file the petition for employment authorization.
If your immigration petition is approved by the USCIS, the official who approves you will create an A-file for you. This file will contain your Alien Registration Number and the petitions and forms that you have filed. You will not be issued an A-number or have an A-file created until your petition is approved.
Other ways you get an A-number is by applying for Marriage Green Card inside the US – then your A-number will be on the receipt notice you get from the USCIS after filing the green card application form, or you are applying for Marriage Green Card outside the US when A-number will be assigned to you when you attend your interview at the U.S. consulate.
Important: During a USCIS procedure, you will be assigned a case number. Don’t confuse it with an Alien Registration Number. You can tell your A-number and your USCIS case number apart by how they look. Your Alien Registration Number is always a 7, 8, or 9-digit number. Your USCIS case number, on the other hand, is a 13-character code beginning with 3 letters (such as “MSC” or “EAC”) and then 10 numbers.
Do I really need to get an A-number?
If you wish to pursue your future in the U.S., if you want to climb the career ladder, raise a happy family here, the answer is simple: yes, you need to get the A-number. All immigrants that want to either stay or work need to get their USCIS Number.
This important number is required on immigration paperwork or other official documentation work. There is no way to go around this.
And whether you want to get a work permit in the U.S., become a Green Card Holder (permanent resident card) apply for U.S. Citizenship, apply for an Immigrant Visa via U.S Embassy or Consulate or deal with U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services in any other way, you will be asked to provide your Alien Registration Number.
Other important forms on which it is required are Green Card Renewal Application (Form I-90), U.S Citizenship Application (Form N-400), Employment Authorization Application (Form I-765), Petition for Relative Application (Form I-130), and more.
When you become a lawful permanent U.S. resident, you will have to renew your card every 10 years. If you are granted conditional permanent resident status based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you will need to apply to remove the conditions on your green card after two years. For this, you will need your A-number as well.
Is there something else I should know about Alien Number?
Yes, couple of things you might want to remember how to distinguish:
- Social Security Number is not the same thing as an A-Number,
- A-Number is not the same as a Visa Number,
- The I-94 number is not the same as A-Number. An I-94 number is an 11-digit number that is found on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94 or Form I-94A). Please see below:
- USCIS Online Account Number is also not the same thing as an A-Number.
Citizenship and immigration services related to an Alien Registration Number
You probably remember that USCIS stands for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services – the DHS agency, the public institution you will have a lot of contact with if you are planning your life in the U.S., an official path to legalize your work or stay.
The other side is immigration services provided by professionals, usually, law firms, that help you in your dealing with the first one. This is important to use these services, especially if you are unsure about your legal status in the U.S.
It sounds overwhelming, I need help
Are you interested in getting an Alien Registration Card? Do you wonder what should be your first steps when applying for a Green Card (permanent resident card)? Do you find legal terms too complex, and even counter-intuitive?
Do you find the application process too confusing? You find contact with any public official stressful, or you simply don’t want to make mistakes when filling a form. If you answered ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions, then we advise you to get professional help.
The law firm will explain all the USCIS procedures in plain language, help you gather all required documents, help you fill out all the necessary forms, will apply on your behalf, will check the process status for you, will deal with all government bodies for you, whether you are trying to get an Alien Registration Number, file U.S. Green Card application, or any sort of permanent residence related issue.
We will act on your behalf when dealing with a government agency like USCIS in a professional and time-efficient manner. We provide our services either as a visa package or by target-focusing on your dilemma. You can also choose from our set of citizenship and immigration services.
It is just easier to file for a permanent residence card using a law firm in the U.S. If you are interested, contact us for an assessment of your situation regarding either a USCIS number, Green Card, or any other permanent resident hurdle. We will gladly help you out.