An alien registration number, also known as the A-number or A#, is a nine or eight-digit identification number assigned to immigrants by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and sent to the eligible immigrant by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
It makes it easy for the government to track immigration paperwork for immigrants residing in the United States, and anything else related to their immigration petitions. As an immigrant, you will be required to maintain the alien registration number even if your immigrant status changes.
Who Is Eligible For An Alien Registration Number?
Every immigrant who applies for a permanent resident card receives an alien registration number immediately they arrive in the country regardless of whether they qualify for the said green card.
The word ‘immigrant’ describes those who intend to stay in the U.S. for a prolonged period of time or entire life. Therefore, tourists and business people do not receive an A-number; instead, they receive a short-term visa.
Considering the above information, you are probably wondering why F-1 students receive alien registration numbers. Well, the definite answer is not known. But the best part of this exception is, students receive work permits regardless of their non-citizen status.
Read More: How to Get a Green Card Visa for F-1 International Student?
Is The Alien Registration Number Different From A USCIS Number?
Contrary to popular belief, an Alien registration number is very different from a USCIS case number. The difference is, a USCIS number is assigned to your green card application or immigration case. This means that, as soon as you submit an application, you are assigned a number; If you submit another application to change your citizenship status, it will be assigned a different number later on.
The USCIS number will be sent to you immediately after your green card or citizenship application is received so you can use it to track the status online. This is because your application can take up to 6 months before it is completed, and it will otherwise be very strenuous for you to keep visiting the USCIS offices.
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The Difference Between An Alien Registration Number And USCIS Number
Long ago, an alien registration number was only seven digits, but these days, they contain eight or nine digits. As for the USCIS number, it usually contains 13 characters- three letters at the front followed by a ten-digit number. The letters can either be ‘MSC’ or ‘EAC.’
There are a lot of cases where people confuse the two numbers when submitting applications. To avoid this confusion, it is always important to crosscheck the number before submitting your application to the USCIS.
Alien Registration Number For Students, Explaine
If you are wondering when you will receive an alien registration number, it depends on various factors. If you are an international student or an F-1 student, chances are, you already got your alien registration number alongside your student visa. This policy was put in place to save you the hustle of applying for the number and allow you to start applying for jobs immediately.
Although your alien registration number can only be used to apply for jobs as long as your student visa is valid, you can have it extended by applying for optical practical training. An optical practical training is basically temporary employment granted to F-1 students; the employment given is in correlation with the student’s area of study.
Alien Registration Visa For A Marriage-Based Green Card Applicant
Suppose you are already legally married to a U.S. citizen and you are in the process of applying for a green card through marriage. In that case, you will receive your alien registration number in less than 30 days from the time you submit your application. This number allows you to start looking for work as soon as possible.
However, suppose you are outside the state when applying for a marriage-based green card. In that case, you will receive an alien registration number when you go for the consular interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. The number will be on the documents provided to you after the interview and on the embassy’s visa stamped on your passport.
Alien Registration Visa For A Green Card Applicant
If you apply for a green card without being married to a U.S. citizen, you will be given the ETA of your alien registration number as soon as your application is reviewed and accepted. Contrary to popular belief, getting an alien registration number is not dependent on whether you have high chances of getting the green card through exceptional skills, family ties, refugee status, etc.
Also, just because you receive an Alien registration number doesn’t mean your chances of getting the green card increase in any way.
Where Can I Find My Alien Registration Number?
Since an alien registration number acts as your primary identification for matters concerning immigration, you can find it in several documents given to you by the government. Here is a list of the said documents;
EAD stands for Employment Authorization Document, and it proves that you have a work permit and that you are legally required to file taxes. The number will be the third number on the card listed under USCIS#.
If you intend to stay in the U.S. permanently and you are eligible for the stay, you will be issued a green card. The Alien registration number will be on the green card under the name USCIS. It will be in the format 123-123-123.
If you enter the USA through the right channels because your country is not safe, you will be issued an immigrant visa. On the right side of the visa, you will find all your registration details, which include your Alien registration number.
Immigrant Fee Handout
After your consular interview at the embassy, you will be given an invoice for all the services rendered to you by the USCIS; on the right corner of said document, you will find your alien registration number.
Notice Of Action
A Notice of Action is a document given to inform you whether your application for the green card is rejected, re-opened, transferred, or whether you need to schedule an appointment. On the Notice of Action document, you will find your alien registration number on the far right.
Frequently Asked Questions About Alien Registration Number
Although this article covers most of the FAQ’s, here is what’s left that is worth knowing.
Is An EAD Number The Same As An A-number?
Yes, the two are the same. However, your EAD card number is not the same as your EAD identification number.
What Should I Do If I Lose All The Documents Containing My A-number?
You should go to the USCIS website and fill in an FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) document. If all your information is correct, you’ll receive the A-number together with information on how to replace your other documents.
Can You Have Both A Social Security Number And An A-Number?
Yes, you can. After you have applied for an A-number, you can go ahead and apply for a social security number, which gives you the right to work and pay taxes to the United States government.