Immigration Registration Numbers
USCIS creates a new A-File, or Alien File, for each person who wants to immigrate to the United States. When USCIS creates the A-File, it also assigns an Alien Registration Number, for example, “123-456-789” to that person’s file. Alien Registration Numbers are often referred to as an
- Alien Number,
- Permanent Resident Card Number,
- Green Card Registration Number or
- USCIS Number.
Purpose of the Green Card Registration Number
Each A-Number is unique to a particular person seeking an immigration status and their A-File. All files regarding that particular person’s immigration status will be filed and stored under that Alien Registration Number. Once the number is assigned, it is permanent and acts as the reference or tracking number for all correspondence, petitions and applications for that particular person. A person’s Alien Registration Number usually does not change.
Who Receives an A-Number?
USCIS assigns A-Numbers only to individuals who file a petition for legal permanent resident status. This includes people who have a petition filed on their behalf: by a family member, for example. USCIS does not issue A-Numbers for nonimmigrants or temporary visa holders. A-Numbers are reserved for individuals seeking a permanent immigration benefit: specifically, permanent resident status.
Permanent Resident Card Registration Number Versus Green Card Registration Number
Each time USCIS issues a Permanent Resident Card, that particular person’s A-Number will appear on the card as the Permanent Resident Card Registration Number. Since the terms Permanent Resident Card and Green Card are often used interchangeably, this number is sometimes referred to as a Green Card Registration Number.
Green Card Registration Number Formats
The U.S. has been issuing A-Numbers since 1940 to ensure that each person seeking immigration benefits has one consolidated file. Since then, more than 60 million A-Files have been opened and assigned unique A-Numbers. This is why a Green Card Registration Number may have seven, eight or nine digits that may appear with or without an “A.”
- Permanent Resident Cards issued after May 10, 2010, display the individual’s A-Number on the front and back of the card as the USCIS #.
- Permanent Resident Cards issued prior to May 10, 2010, list the individual’s A-Number on the front and back of the card as the A # or Alien Number.
Green Card Registration Numbers typically have their digits arranged in groups of two or three numbers. Usually, these are separated by dashes, but they may also be separated by spaces or appear with no breaks or spaces at all. The “A” may or may not appear, depending on when the Green Card was issued.
Green Card Registration Number Versus Other Numbers
The Green Card Registration Number, or A-Number, is primarily a tracking identification number that USCIS uses to link all immigration transactions for a particular person. It is one of a number of other numbers that are also important to the immigration process and living in the U.S. What is important to understand is what the Green Card Registration Number is not. It is different from a
- Receipt Number. USCIS receipt numbers have 13 digits and include letters and numbers. Each portion of a receipt number is a code that reveals the service center handling the case, the fiscal year, the computer workday and the actual case number. Receipt numbers are useful for checking case status.
- Case ID Number. This is another term for receipt numbers. One person may have multiple case numbers associated with their A-File or A-Number.
- Social Security Number. Noncitizens authorized to work in the U.S. can apply for a Social Security Number. However, that eight-digit number is different from the Green Card Registration Number. The Social Security Number allows a person to report earnings and earn benefits through the Social Security Administration.
Green Card Registration Numbers currently appear as USCIS Numbers on Permanent Resident Cards. They are the primary way of tracking all transactions related to one particular person. USCIS recommends that permanent residents ensure that their name and A-Number appear on all forms, correspondence and checks payable as filing fees.