Like a Social Security Number (SSN) is given to every US citizen, an Alien Registration Number is also assigned to certain non-American citizens — here is how to find your Alien Registration Number online, also called an A-Number.
Your Alien Registration Number serves as an identification tool when you’re in the United States. If you’re planning to come to America as a non-citizen, you will need to have some key information about this number on your fingertips, including details about where you can find it once it has been assigned to you.
Understanding Alien Registration Number
An A-Number is a unique 7-, 8-, or 9-digit code, which is issued to a non-citizen of the United States by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The agency makes use of the number for tracking the immigration files for immigrants as well as certain non-immigrants.
Your Alien Registration Number is a vital piece of info when you are preparing new USCIS forms for requesting immigration privileges. If the number is not up to nine digits, you can put a zero after the “A”, as well as before the first digit, which would give you a nine-digit code. For instance, “23781132” would change to “A023781132.”
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services doesn’t issue an Alien Registration Number to everyone as it only assigns such a number to all permanent residents.
Generally, the USCIC doesn’t issue an A-number to non-immigrant visitors, which include those persons is in America on a temporary basis. B1/B2 visas are non-immigrant visas meant for visitors.
But the body could issue it to select classes of non-immigrant, who’ve been given employment authorization or other privileges.
When looking at immigrants, short-term visitors are not included in the list as they have no plan to permanently reside in the United States. Such people (short-term visitors) include business travellers, tourists, short-term workers, etc.
But there’s an exception to this: International students are issued an A-Number even if they intend staying for a short period. F-1 student visa holders obtain work authorization letters containing an A-Number.
This implies they are assigned one even though they are not applying for a green card (for permanent residency).
Let’s look at further information on how to find your Alien Registration Number online.
Finding Your Alien Registration Number
Generally, Alien Registration Numbers are listed on immigration documents, like an immigrant visa or permanent resident green card. Here are the documents you will find an A-Number in:
Permanent Resident Green Card
People that have a permanent resident card (which also called a green card) can find their A- Number on the front side. Also, the number is embedded in those characters on the backside, too.
A-Number on Immigrant Visa
Apart from this, you can also find your A-Number on your immigrant visa, which is also referred to as a visa stamp or visa foil, seen in your passport. Your A-Number is designated as the “Registration Number”, and you will see it in the top right portion of your visa stamp.
A-Number on Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
If you don’t have a permanent resident card (a green card), you could find your A-Number on other immigration documents, like an Employment Authorization Document, which is also called a work permit.
A-Number on Immigrant Data Summary
If you did your green card application via consular processing (that is, you applied for a green card at a US consulate or embassy), you may have had your Immigrant Data Summary stapled to the front section of the immigrant visa package. You will be able to find your Alien Registration Number at the top section of your Immigrant Data Summary.
A-Number on Notice of Action
Also, some versions of the Notice of Action may include the A-Number. You will find the number in the top/right section of the document next to USCIS#.
A-Number on Immigrant Fee Handout
If you applied for a green card at a US consulate, the immigration officer may have given you a USCIS Immigrant Fee handout — a document providing instructions on how you are to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee and also including your Alien Registration Number, which is found at the top-right corner.
What Is the Duration of an A-Number?
If you’re wondering the duration the Alien Registration Number lasts, it doesn’t expire as it’s attached to your A-File. The A-File is an official file for every immigration & naturalization record, and each A-File is recognized by an individual’s Alien Registration Number.
This enables the US government to easily find any records that they‘ve about an individual’s immigration or naturalization case.
But you could have been given more than one A-Number, and if this is so, when filing your forms, you have to include only the most recently issued one or all the A-numbers assigned to you.
When You Should Get an A-Number
The majority of persons get an A-Number as soon as they apply for a green card, and this is subject to the condition that they qualify to obtain one. But some individuals are issued an Alien Registration Number even without having a permanent resident card.
As stated earlier, F-1 student visa holders already have this number without a green card. In the same vein, if you already acquired a work authorization to work in the United States, you will be assigned an A-Number automatically. This may also be the case for workers, who are under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.
Furthermore, the Alien Registration Number is also assigned to persons that are applying for a marriage-based green card in America, in which case a receipt is usually given to them containing the A-Number issued to them. As for the marriage-based green card, you are required to complete the regular green card application that is provided by the USCIS, and you also need to pick a relevant section.
If you are married legally to an American citizen, after applying for a green card, you will get an A-Number within thirty days of starting the application. But if you are married to a green card holder, you are entitled to be assigned an Alien Registration Number after 12 months of starting your I-130 application. Also, all this applies to spouses that are resident in the United States.
For spouses that are not in the US, they will be issued an A-number on attending an interview scheduled at the U.S. consulate. Regardless of whether your spouse is a citizen of the US or a green card holder, during your consular interview, you are required to do some paperwork.
It is after this that you will now be given a time frame within which an A-Number will be assigned to you.
How Is A-Number Different from USCIS Case Number?
Several people confuse an Alien Registration Numbers with a USCIS-issued Case Number on getting their receipts after filing the application. If you are one of such persons, do note that the two numbers are not the same.
On obtaining a receipt notice, you will see two numbers printed on it: One of them is your A-Number, while the other is the USCIS case number. The Alien Registration Number either contains 7, 8, 9 digits, while the case number is a code with 13 characters that comprise letters and numbers.
And the first 3 characters are letters, then followed by 10 numbers.
You can look at it in this manner: While the A-number is issued to you, the case number is assigned to your specific case. Your case will undergo different identification & verification processes, all of which takes time. So, you can utilize the USCIS case number for keeping tabs on the application process.
Apart from that, another distinction between these two numbers you need to mull over is, an A-Number stays permanent, whereas your USCIS case number changes from case to case.
When you apply for US citizenship in the future (if you do so), this will have a case number different from the one you’d on your green card application. Your Alien Registration Number, however, stays unchanged.
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In a Nutshell
To wrap up, the Alien Registration Number remains yours until you are granted US citizenship. Until then, you are required to make use of this number on all relevant documents. Even after you have been awarded citizenship, you will still have to use the number in certain cases.
And on that note, we bring this post on how to find your Alien Registration Number online to an end.