An Alien Registration Number is a identification number provided to any non-United States citizen who applies for U.S. immigration through lawful permanent residency (a green card). An A-Number appears on each immigration-related document sent by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to the applicant. Likewise, it is also written/typed on each immigration application or form he or she files.

In general, A-Numbers aren’t usually granted to non-immigrants who are in the U.S. temporarily – with the exception of foreign students (F-1 visa) and other certain individuals with specific employment authorization.

Here, we discuss how an A-number is communicated to the beneficiary, where it can be found and when to use it.

How To Get an Alien Registration Number?

An A-Number is sent to green card applicants via a Notice of Action (Form I-797C). Otherwise, applicants will receive their A-Number on an Immigrant Data Summary when applying for a green card through Consular Processing. This number never changes, and never expires, so there won’t be any need to renew or request a new one.

In the off chance that an A-Number is not included on a document from the USCIS, petitioners can obtain it through the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request service online. Though, it’s highly improbable that the USCIS would send a document to the beneficiary without it.

When To Use an Alien Registration Number

Petitioners are required to include their A-Number on all their immigration-related documents they submit to the USCIS. Not only is this for USCIS tracking purposes, but is also used when the petitioner performs a case-related search on the USCIS website.

How To Locate an Alien Registration Number

There are quite a few different types of numbers associated with immigration applications, so it is important to be able to identify which is which, and when they are used. In the case of the A-Number, applicants will receive one via a notice, I-130 approval, Immigrant Data Summary, a visa stamp, a work permit, a green card, or a combination thereof.

Though the A-Number is easy to find, it may be confusing to recognize. Simply because it is often referred to as a USCIS number, which is easily mistaken for a USCIS case number.

An A-Number appears on different types of documents and forms the USCIS sends the non-citizen, including the notice communicating that the USCIS received his or her green card application. As previously mentioned, an A-Number has eight or nine digits, though it often only has seven. When this is the case, simply add zero (0) after the “A” to make the number nine digits (including the “A”). 

Let’s have a look at the different forms and documents that bear an A-Number.

Alien Registration Number on a Notice of Action

On a I-797C used for a biometrics Notice of Action, the A-Number can be found in the top right section, next to the words, “USCIS#”.

A-Number on an Immigrant Data Summary

When applying for a green card abroad, at a U.S. consulate or embassy (Consular Processing), the consular officer will most likely staple an Immigrant Data Summary to the front of the applicant’s immigrant visa packet. If this is the case, the A-Number is listed in the centered section at the top, just above the Case ID.

A-Number on an Immigrant Fee Handout

Similarly, after applying for a green card through Consular Processing, and once the application has been approved, the immigrating individual receives an instructional document for paying the immigrant fee. The A-Number can be found in the top right corner of the handout.

A-Number on an EAD

A U.S. work permit, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD) also contains an A-Number. It is located just below “USCIS#” with the “000-000-000” format.

Alien Registration Number on an Immigrant Visa

To find an A-Number on an immigrant visa:

  1. Locate the immigrant visa within the passport
  2. Locate the visa foil (visa stamp)
  3. Find the words, “Registration Number”, in the top right corner
  4. The seven-digit number (may otherwise be nine digits) is just below that

To reiterate, a nonimmigrant visa will not have an A-Number, unless it is an F-1 student visa or certain ones with employment authorization. Especially those who participated in Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon completing their higher education degree.

Alien Registration Number on a Green Card

To find an A-Number on a green card, first locate the words, “Alien Registration Number” on the front of the card – just below “USCIS#”. The format will be three digits, followed by a dash, followed by three more digits, another dash, and ending with three more digits: “000-000-000”. Otherwise, it will be listed as A# “000-000-000”. The A-Number is also notated on the back of the card.

Note: A green card is also referred to as an alien registration card (Form I-551).

Alien Registration Number, USCIS Case Number and an SSN

An A-Number is often referred to as a USCIS number (USCIS#). This is not the same as a USCIS case number, which may also appear on a notice sent by the USCIS. A USCIS case number is for the purpose of tracking a petition or form related to the individual’s case. 

  • Alien Registration Number (A-Number):
    • Given to immigrant applicants and certain employment authorization beneficiaries
    • May also be called a USCIS number, or Alien Number
    • Seven, eight or nine digits
    • Does not change
  • USCIS case number:
    • For tracking forms and petitions within a case
    • May also be called a receipt number 
    • 13 characters, including 10 digits
    • Begins with “MSC” or “EAC”
    • Can be different, based on the application and the type of application
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
    • For U.S. citizens and certain non-citizens 
    • For tracking income, filing taxes, opening a bank account, receiving government benefits, etc.
    • Nine digits
    • Does not change, unless requested

Wrapping Up Our Discussion On The Alien Registration Number

The Alien Registration Number (A-Number) is a crucial identifier for non-U.S. citizens navigating the immigration process. This number, assigned to lawful permanent residents and certain employment authorization beneficiaries, plays an essential role in tracking and managing immigration-related documents and applications. Unlike other numbers associated with immigration, such as the USCIS case number or Social Security Number (SSN), the A-Number is unique in its permanence and consistent use across various documents, ensuring clear identification and streamlined processing. Understanding where to find the A-Number on different forms and when to use it is vital for applicants to maintain accurate records and facilitate smooth communication with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As such, familiarizing oneself with the specifics of the A-Number can significantly aid in the efficient and successful management of one's immigration journey.