Alien Registration Number Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Understanding Your Alien Registration Number (A-Number)

When you’re dealing with U.S. immigration, you’ll come across something called an Alien Registration Number (often referred to as the A-number). You’ll need to provide your A-number on most immigration documents you submit to USCIS.

What is an Alien Registration Number?

Your Alien Registration Number is a unique identifier provided by the U.S. government to non-citizens who are seeking permanent residency. It consists of 7 to 9 digits and remains with you indefinitely. 

This number plays a vital role in managing your immigration matters, allowing officials to track your applications and activities accurately. It’s essential for completing immigration forms accurately and monitoring the status of your applications.

Who Gets an Alien Registration Number?

Everyone who applies for a green card, regardless of their reason—whether it’s family ties, employment, refugee status, or asylum—is given an Alien Registration Number. So, if you apply for a green card or any other type of Immigrant Visa, you’ll be assigned an Alien Number.

Who Doesn’t Get an Alien Registration Number (A-Number)?

If you’re visiting the U.S. on a tourist or business visa, you won’t get an Alien Registration Number (A-number). That’s because these visas are for short stays, not for becoming permanent residents.

*Note: However, there’s one exception. If you come to the U.S. on an F-1 student visa and have permission to work, you’ll get an A-number even though you’re here temporarily.

When is the Alien Registration Number Issued?

Most individuals receive their Alien Registration Number when they apply for a green card through various pathways, such as family ties, employment, refugee status, or asylum.

However, there are specific scenarios where you might already have an A-number or receive it at different stages of the immigration process.

Applying for a Green Card from Inside the United States:

  • If you previously gained work authorization under the Optional Practical Training program while on an F-1 student visa, you might already have an A-number.
  • When applying for a marriage green card from within the U.S., your A-number will be included on the receipt notice sent by USCIS after filing your green card application form (Form I-485).
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens typically receive their A-number about 30 days after beginning the application process. However, if you’re married to a green card holder, you’ll get your A-number around a year into the process, after the I-130 petition is approved and an immigrant visa becomes available.

Applying for a Green Card from Outside the United States:

  • If you’re applying for a marriage-based green card from outside the U.S., your A-number will be assigned during the consular interview at the U.S. consulate.
  • Regardless of your spouse’s citizenship status, you’ll receive paperwork with your A-number during the consular interview, and it will also be stamped in your passport.

Other Scenarios:

  • Individuals may receive their A-number after the USCIS receives their Application to Register Permanent Residence.
  • H-1B visa holders won’t receive an A-number until their employer files Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker, on their behalf and it gets approved by USCIS.
  • Dependents of H-1B visa holders on an H-4 visa won’t be issued an A-number.

*Note: immigrants don’t need to be present in the U.S. to receive an A-number; they can obtain it at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country during the consular interview.

Where to Find Alien Registration Number

USCIS ensures that your A-number appears on various documents sent to you throughout the application process. Most forms and paperwork you receive from USCIS will display your A-number near the top of the first page. It is typically labeled as “A#”.

Any correspondence you receive from USCIS regarding your green card application will contain your A-number. For example, when USCIS receives your green card application, they’ll send you a notice confirming its receipt. Your A-number will be included in this notice.

Find the Alien Registration Number on a Green Card

For green cards issued from 2004 to 2010, the A-number is shown as “A#” on the card. After May 10, 2010, the A-number is the same as the USCIS number printed on the front of the card. You can also find the A-number on the back of the card.

alien registration number in green card

Find Your Alien Registration Number on the Immigrant Fee Handout

The A-number is typically included in the Immigrant Fee Handout provided by USCIS. It is usually located in the section that outlines important information about the individual’s immigration status and processing fees.

ARN number in immigrant fee

Find the Alien Registration Number on an EAD card

The A-number is generally printed on the front side of the EAD card (Employment Authorization Document), labeled as “USCIS#”. It is usually located near the top of the card, alongside other personal details.

ARN number in the EAD card

Find Your Alien Registration Number on an Immigrant Visa

The A-number is labeled as “Registration Number” on the front of the card. Please note that a non-immigrant visa won’t feature an Alien Registration Number.

ARN number displays in Immigrant Visa

Find the Alien Registration Number in the Notice of Action

The A-number can be found on the Notice of Action (Form I-797) issued by USCIS. It is usually located near the top of the notice, alongside the beneficiary’s name and receipt number. The A-number is often labeled as “A#” for easy identification.

Find Your Alien Registration Number on the Immigrant Data Summary

The Immigrant Data Summary document is received at different stages of the Consular Processing or application for a green card abroad. On the Immigrant Data Summary, the A-number is usually located prominently at the top or in a designated section of the document. It is often labeled clearly as “A-number” or “Alien Number”.

What is The Difference Between A-Numbers and USCIS Case Numbers?

Your Alien Registration Number (A-number) serves as your unique identifier in the U.S. immigration system, while the USCIS case number, also known as the receipt number, is assigned to track the progress of your specific application. For example, if you apply for a green card and later apply for U.S. citizenship, each application will have its own USCIS case number, but your A-number will remain constant.

Distinguishing between the two is straightforward. Your A-number is a 7, 8, or 9-digit number, while your USCIS case number is a 13-character code starting with 3 letters followed by 10 numbers. It’s essential to note that sometimes “USCIS number” or “USCIS#” might refer to your A-number, so it’s important to double-check which number is needed for your specific purpose.

Here are examples of an A-number and a USCIS case number:

A-Number (Alien Registration Number):


USCIS Case Number (Receipt Number):


*Note: Your USCIS case number is not the same as the USCIS account number. The Online Account Number is given to individuals who set up an online account with USCIS, whereas the receipt number is allocated to specific applications or petitions.

What Do I Do If I Lose My Alien Registration Number?

If you’ve misplaced your Alien Registration Number and are unable to locate it within your USCIS documents, visas, or other relevant paperwork, there are steps you can take to retrieve it.

  • Request Your Immigration Records Through FOIA:

If you cannot find your A-number among your USCIS documents or other paperwork, you can submit a request for your immigration records through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This request will provide you with a copy of your immigration file, which includes your A-number.

  • Schedule an InfoPass Appointment at the USCIS Office:

Another option is to arrange an InfoPass appointment at your nearest USCIS office to seek assistance in retrieving your A-number. During the appointment, USCIS staff can help you locate your A-number and provide guidance on any necessary steps.

It’s important to note that self-scheduled InfoPass appointments are gradually being phased out, so availability may vary. This method may not be accessible to everyone, depending on the current procedures in place at USCIS offices.

Frequently Asked Question: Alien Registration Number

Read answers to common questions regarding the Alien Registration Number, where to find it, and how it differs from other identifiers in your immigration journey.

What Is an Alien Registration Card?

An Alien Registration Card, commonly referred to as a green card or Form I-551 serves as official documentation of an individual’s lawful permanent resident status in the United States. This card, often colloquially known as the “green card,” contains important biographic information and serves as proof of legal residency. Additionally, it includes the holder’s Alien Registration Number (A-number), which is a unique identifier assigned by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

What Do I Do If My Alien Registration Number is Less Than 9 Digits?

If your A-number is fewer than 9 digits, you can adjust it to be a 9-digit number by inserting zeros. For example, if your A-number is an 8-digit number (e.g., A12345678), you can insert a zero after the “A” to make it “A012345678.” Similarly, if your A-number is a 7-digit number (e.g., A1234567), you can insert two zeros after the “A” to make it “A0012345678.” This adjusted A-number with nine digits can then be used in the forms you file for immigration purposes.

Is a Social Security Number the Same Thing as an A-Number?

No, a Social Security Number (SSN) and an Alien Registration Number (A-number) are not the same. A Social Security Number is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to eligible immigrant workers in the United States for employment, tax, and benefit purposes.

On the other hand, USCIS issues an A-number to immigrants who apply to live in the U.S. permanently to track immigration history and status. It’s common for many immigrant workers to possess both a Social Security number and an A-number.

Can I Find the Alien Registration Number on My Passport?

If you applied for your green card from outside the United States, your passport should contain an immigrant visa stamp with your Alien Registration Number (A-number). However, if you applied from within the United States, your A-number may not be found on your passport.

Does the Alien Registration Number Appear on DACA Recipients?

If you’re part of the DACA program, chances are you’ve been assigned an Alien Registration Number (A-number). This unique identifier is necessary for renewing your DACA status. When completing Form I-821D for renewal, ensure you have your A-number handy, as it’s required in item 6.

For first-time Form I-821D filers, obtaining an A-number might be new territory. Review any correspondence you’ve received from USCIS, where the A-Number is typically included. It’s an essential piece of information for all DACA-related applications and renewals.

Will My Alien Registration Number Expire?

No, your Alien Registration Number (A-Number) itself does not expire. Once you have been assigned an A-number, it remains with you for the rest of your life. However, it’s important to note that your immigration status may have expiration dates or require renewal.

For example, you will need to renew your green card it every ten years to maintain your lawful permanent resident status. Similarly, if you are a conditional permanent resident (CPR), you will need to submit Form I-751 approximately two years after your initial approval to remove the conditions on your permanent residency.

While your A-Number remains constant, it’s essential to stay aware of any requirements for maintaining your immigration status and take appropriate actions to ensure your status remains valid.

Related Resources

Form I-140: Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers Guide
Form I-130 Overview: Petition for Alien Relative Explained
Permanent Resident, Green Card and Alien Card Number
What Is a Resident Alien Card?
Alien Registration Card Update