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What is an A Number?

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International movement has become a standard part of life in our interconnected world. Whether for employment, education, or personal reasons, navigating the complexities of immigration procedures is a common experience.

The Alien Registration Number, more widely known as the A-Number, is at the heart of these procedures. In this article, we will explore the concept of an A-Number, its importance in the immigration process, and its relevance in the broader context of immigration to the United States. If you are an immigrant in need of more information or help regarding the Alien Registration Number, contact Houston-based attorneys specializing in immigration law.

Defining the Alien Registration Number

The Alien Registration Number is a unique identification code assigned to non-U.S. citizens by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This A-Number typically consists of seven to nine digits, serving as a primary identifier for individuals residing in the United States for reasons like work, studies, family reunification, or seeking asylum.

The Crucial Role of the A-Number

The A-number plays a pivotal role in the immigration landscape, streamlining processes and maintaining comprehensive records of non-U.S. citizens.

Here are some key reasons why the A-number holds significant importance:


Much like a Social Security Number (SSN) is used to identify U.S. citizens and residents uniquely, an A-Number distinguishes non-U.S. citizens within the U.S. This identification aids government agencies, employers, and educational institutions in verifying an individual’s immigration status and eligibility for various benefits and services.

When law enforcement agencies encounter individuals suspected of violating immigration laws, the A-Number proves invaluable in swiftly identifying and verifying their immigration status. By cross-referencing the A-Number with immigration databases, officials can access a comprehensive record of the individual’s immigration history, including their entry date, immigrant visa status, extensions, and any associated applications.

Preventing Identity Fraud

Another critical facet of the A-Number’s role in enforcement is its contribution to curbing identity fraud. Since the A-Number is a unique identifier, it significantly reduces the risk of mistaken identity or fraudulent claims about immigration status. A-Numbers safeguard the integrity of the immigration process and ensure enforcement actions are taken against the correct individuals.

Immigration Applications

Individuals must often provide their A-Number when applying for an immigrant visa, green cards, or other immigration-related benefits to facilitate efficient tracking and management of applications.

Employment Authorization

Sometimes, foreign workers may require employment authorization while their green card applications are pending. This step allows them to work legally in the U.S. during the waiting period. An A-Number is often used to link the employment authorization application to the individual’s immigration records.

Comprehensive Records

Government agencies rely on the A-Number to maintain accurate records of an individual’s immigration journey. These records may be details about immigrant visa statuses, extensions, changes in employment or educational institutions, and any breaches of any immigration law or regulations.

Enforcement and Compliance

The A-Number is used to monitor individuals who have pending immigration cases or have been issued removal orders, assisting with effective tracking and compliance management. Should individuals fail to adhere to mandated requirements, authorities can take appropriate actions, including detention and removal from the country.

Acquiring an Alien Registration Number

Generally, individuals receive an A-Number when they initially engage with the U.S. immigration system. A-Numbers can be assigned during various circumstances:

Visa Application

The assignment of an A-Number before arriving in the U.S. is particularly common for specific categories of non-U.S. citizens already applying for visas or other immigration benefits. By doing so, USCIS proactively prepares for the individual’s arrival, ensuring smoother processing and transition upon entry.

Visa Application Process

For individuals applying for certain types of visas, especially those that may lead to a change of status or eventual, conditional permanent resident status or residency, USCIS assigns an A-Number as part of the visa approval process. This preemptive assignment expedites the transition from temporary visitor to authorized resident, as the A-Number is already in place for the individual upon arrival.

Adjustment of Status

Foreign nationals applying for a change in immigration status within the U.S., such as transitioning from a non-immigrant visa holder to a green card holder, are assigned an A-Number.

Work Authorization

Those applying for work authorization in the U.S., either through a visa application or special categories like Optional Practical Training (OPT) for students, receive an A-Number.

Asylum and Refugee Cases

Individuals seeking asylum or refugee status in the U.S. are also assigned an A-Number during the application process.

Locating Your Alien Registration Number

Once assigned, the A-Number remains constant throughout an individual’s interactions with the U.S. immigration system. To find your A-Number, refer to official documents from USCIS, such as visa approval notices, green cards, employment authorization document and other immigration documents. If applicable, your A-Number will also be listed on your permanent resident identification card or employment authorization card under “USCIS #.”

If you have misplaced your A-Number, it’s crucial to retrieve it promptly before you need it urgently. The USCIS Contact Center can assist, provided you can provide relevant identification details. Additionally, if you hold an account on the USCIS’s online portal, your A-Number may be listed there.

Start Your Immigration Process

As individuals embark on journeys related to work, education, family reunification, and more in the United States, the A-Number accompanies them throughout, indicating their lawful presence within the nation’s borders and status as an immigrant.

If you dream of immigrating to the US or are already here and want to adjust your status, schedule an appointment with the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon, PLLC today by calling 281-606-0800 for a free case evaluation.

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