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What Is an Alien Registration Number

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Planning to live permanently in the United States is a dream. However, you need a number that would be your gateway to enter the country. This number is called the Alien Registration Number.

For starters, an Alien Registration Number is made up of seven to nine digits that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) gives to many immigrants who are applying for residency in America. This number is also known as A-Number, Alien Number, or USCIS Number.

Having this number makes tracing your immigration files in USCIS a breeze. Your alien registration number is included in most of the documents you send to immigration, such as the Immigrant Visa, Employment Authorization Document, and Permanent Resident Green Card. This number allows you to effectively use it when filing new forms and other immigration documents.

This article will teach you about:

  • The uses of an alien registration number
  • How to get, find, and update this number
  • How to recover this number in case of loss


How and When Do You Get an Alien Registration Number?

Every person who is applying for a green card, regardless of family ties, refugee or asylee status, and employment, gets an Alien Registration Number. It’s a special identifier for all immigrants, especially those wanting permanent resident status in the United States.

You don’t need this number if you’re only staying in the country temporarily. You’re only treated as a short-term visitor, so you don’t need to sweat much to get this number.

One particular exception is people who have F-1 visas. They can get an alien registration number and work permit even without a green card since they’re only in the country as a full-time student.

There’s no official application for the alien registration number. But here’s how you can get it:

  • Application for a marriage-based green card within the U.S. Take a look at the receipt notice that the USCIS issues when you submit your application form.
  • I-130 approval. When your I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) is approved, you must submit your I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). It takes one year to get your A-number in this process.
  • A consular interview at the American consulate. You get your A-number in the documents when you apply for a marriage-based green card outside the U.S.
  • Stamp on your visa. You can find your A-number in this document stamped by the consulate once approved.

The Various Uses of the Alien Registration Number

Your A-number is useful in a handful of ways. Here’s how it serves its purpose:

1. Tracking your case status with USCIS

Getting an A-number allows you to see the progress of your case status on the USCIS website. You’d know if your case was approved or denied and if you need to submit further documentation. Your A-number is your identifier to find your files easily.

2. Use in employment eligibility verification (Form I-9)

The Form I-9, or the Employment Eligibility Verification, is a document that verifies your identity and authorization to work in the United States. You need your A-number to support your identity together with this document.

3. Interactions with the Department of State and Consular processes

The A-number is extremely useful in the immigrant visa application process in the consular offices. It helps in checking your history and immigration status before you enter the country. The immigration officer would also be able to identify you and use your A-number as a reference.

Where to Find Your Alien Registration Number

It’s not that hard to find your alien registration number when you need it. These are the areas where you can see them:

1. On immigration documents

When you get your physical green card, your A-number is printed on the front and back of the card. The number is listed under USCIS#. On your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), your A-number is listed under USCIS#, just like on the green card.

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On your immigrant visa, the number is listed under Registration Number. In your Immigrant Data Summary, it goes first right after the letterhead. Lastly, you’ll find your A-number in the top right corner of the Immigrant Fee Handout.

2. Online account with USCIS

You can look for the A-number in your online USCIS account. If you can’t find it, send an email to USCIS about your concern.

3. Inquiries with USCIS and consulates

Including your A-number in your written inquiries with the USCIS and consulates would get you the right assistance you need. This unique combination of numbers is yours alone. They can find your documents easily. So make sure the A-numbers in your every application form are the same.

Updating and Correcting Your Alien Registration Number

Sometimes, you might end up discovering that you got the wrong A-number. Other times, you need to update it as time goes by. Correcting it is another work on your part, but you have to do it to be easily identified. This is what you need to do:

  • Double-check your number from every document.
  • If it’s proven incorrect, email the USCIS about your concern or call them at 800-375-5283. They’re available from Monday to Friday, 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. Eastern time.
  • Provide supporting documents, such as your green card and EAD.
  • Reach out to an immigration attorney to help you throughout the whole process.
  • Monitor the progress of your case on the USCIS website.
  • Inform immigration officers about your incorrect A-number in your future appointments.

Always keep yourself updated with the latest developments of your incorrect A-number case. Take any action required by the immigration that aligns with your concerns. If you’re updating your number, just head to the consular office and take the necessary steps.

Recovering Lost Alien Registration Number

Visa expirations and loss of immigration status are some of the common causes of losing your alien registration number. Oftentimes, unforeseen circumstances like fire and robbery, where your cards and documentation are severely affected, will make you lose your A-number.

Retrieving the lost A-number is a process of its own. If you lost yours, here’s what you need to do:

  • Check your documents. Your A-number is printed on your green card, immigration visa, and EAD. It’s impossible to miss it at first sight.
  • Look for your A-number on the USCIS website. It’s usually found above the personal details section.
  • Go through every Notice of Action or Form I-797 that you got from USCIS. The number must be in those documents.
  • Call or email USCIS about your situation. Take their recommended steps to get your A-number back. It might be another work for you, but always do what’s necessary.
  • Wait for updates from USCIS regarding your concern. Check your emails, especially the spam folder, every now and then to see if there’s an update from immigration.

Reapply for visa extensions before the deadline to avoid losing your A-number. Should you decide to change your immigration status, inform the USCIS about it and complete the necessary paperwork. Lastly, write down your A-number on paper. Keep it in your wallet, cabinet, or any part of your house that you alone can access. Another person misusing your A-number is the last thing you want to happen.

Special Considerations for Certain Immigrant Categories

Some people who are under circumstances vastly different from yours may or may not get an A-number when they plan to live in the U.S. Here are some of those people:

1. Refugees and asylum seekers

Refugees and those seeking asylum are people who have fled their countries due to several factors. A refugee is a person who is afraid of persecution because of their race, nationality, and political opinions. They leave their countries due to war and violence (racial, tribal, or ethnic).

On the other hand, asylum-seekers leave their countries because it’s too difficult to stay in them. This fleeing can be caused by war, extreme poverty, hunger, and violence based on religion and sexual orientation.

These kinds of people, along with those applying for citizenship, are granted an alien registration number when they reach the United States. That way, they can rebuild their lives from scratch and leave their painful past behind.

2. Conditional residents

You’re considered a conditional resident when you live permanently in the U.S. as a spouse of an American citizen before your marriage hits the second anniversary. They can get an A-number since they’re considered an immigrant, and all immigrants are granted this number.

3. Nonimmigrant visa holders

People who are staying in the U.S. for business and travel purposes don’t get an alien registration number. The A-number is only for those who want to reside in the country permanently. These people are staying for a shorter period of time than most of the population.


Ultimately, an alien registration number gives you three things: identification, easy tracing of documents, and a means of verifying your identity. Having this number with you makes it easier to go through the application processes of the immigration system. Just keep this number and your documentation safe in your hands all the time.


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