An Alien Registration Number, also known as an “A-Number,” is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. residents who are not a citizen of the United States and do have a green card or other forms of lawful status. However, it is also maybe issued to someone without status in the U.S. if they are in deportation proceedings or apply for any benefits to USVIS.   It was created by the Immigration Reform Control Act (IRCA) in 1986 and applied to non-citizens residing in the United States on temporary visas or without permission from federal authorities.

The Alien Registration Number does not replace any existing Social Security Numbers but instead works alongside legal residency or during obtaining any kind of status in America. The purpose of this identification number is so that employers and others know which numbers belong to foreigners and can legally hire them without fear of violating U.S. immigration laws and ensure that those workers who are able to work legally in the USA can do so without issue.

For many people, their Alien Registration Number is an essential piece of information and is used on official forms such as tax documents or any other kind of legal paperwork. Those who receive this number should keep it safe and secure, as needed for official government interactions.

Who in the U.S. gets an Alien Registration Number?

1. Non-immigrants entering the U.S. temporarily

One of the most common types of A-Numbers issued is to non- immigrants entering the U.S. temporarily for work, study, or other purposes. This includes people who have been granted B Status, F Status, H Status, etc. The vast majority of these visas are issued at American consulates overseas or by USCIS when applying for benefits.

2. Persons with Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Persons who are granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) also receive an A-Number in most cases. TPS is a status provided to aliens residing in the U.S. who cannot safely return to their native country due to war, civil unrest, or natural disasters.

3. Refugees & Asylees

Another common A-Number is issued to refugees and asylees who are lawfully admitted to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons while their US immigration cases are pending with the U.S. government. An A-Number is a temporary status assigned to these individuals and usually can be changed within one year from the date of issuance.

4. Persons with an Application for Asylum Pending

People whose US immigration applications are still being processed also receive A-Numbers in many cases.

5. Persons who entered the U.S. without permission & are being processed for removal

A small number of people receive A-Numbers when they have not entered the U.S. legally and are working with US immigration authorities to obtain legal status. These individuals either entered the U.S. without permission and are being processed for removal (deportation), or they entered legally on a temporary visa, and their authorized stay expired. They haven’t applied for an extension or change of status.

6. Persons who re-entered the U.S. after being deported

Some people receive A-Numbers when they have been formally deported from the U.S. and then decide to return. If you plan on returning to the U.S. after being deported, it is best not to attempt reentry without first obtaining a legal non-immigrant visa or a green card. Persons who are caught illegally re-entering the U.S. after deporting or being in the U.S. without authorization for more than 6-12 months or longer at a time are subject to extremely harsh criminal penalties and 3/10-year or permanent bar to re-entry.

7. A person with a green card

A person with an employment based green card receives A-Numbers because the law requires them to do so. Employers must report this information as part of the permanent employee verification process and ensure compliance with tax laws and other legal requirements. Anyone with a family based green card also receives A-Numbers.

8. Persons with eb5 or EB1 visas

People with employment-based visas receive A-Numbers when they are required to do so by law. These include people with an EB5 or EB1 visa, among others. They are issued to investors and EB1  status applicants for tax reporting purposes.

What is a USCIS Case Number?

A USCIS case number is assigned to each individual who submits an application or petition to US Immigration Services. A case number reflects the applicant’s history within the immigration process with USCIS in a specific classification. It can also be referred to as an A-number.

Differences between A and Case Numbers:

A-numbers are assigned to people who have had a permanent residence or work-related visa petition approved. If the person is outside the U.S., they will have their A number printed on an I-94 form and stapled into their passport upon entry. When a person has a green card which has A-number on it, they can live legally in the USA as long as they keep the Department of Homeland Security informed of their current address and do not violate any other rules, laws, and regulations of the United States.

The case numbers are assigned to people who have applied for immigration benefits, such as adjusting status to permanent residence, work-related status or visa petition, petitions for relatives, asylum applications. When someone has a case number, USCIS is going to process the application or petition they submitted. The evidence of having a case number is the receipt notice (Form I-797C, Notice of Action) and Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, stamped with the new status.

Another difference between an A number and a case number is that the USCIS does not have a straight forward procedure for replacing a lost USCIS case number. If you lose the receipt notice, you hqve to file either a FOIA to obtain a copy or schedule an infopass at your local USCIS office to ask them for your receipt number or you file a form I-824 (Replacement of I-797C Notice). Although having an alien registration card is legally equivalent to having an A number, it is not the same as having a case number.

The case number will usually have a new case number on the I-797C receipt notice after the USCIS has finished processing your application. If you were to check online on E-Verify, i.e., using your name and A-Number as an identifier, it would not reflect the correct information as the new case number is issued almost immediately.

How do you request your Alien Registration Number if you don’t find it?

Alien Registration Number can be obtained by filing Form I-90, available from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Website. The form must be completed mailed to one of the service centers: California, Texas, New York, Nebraska, and Missouri. The completed form must be accompanied by permanent resident card and any other documents relating to their legal permanent status in the U.S.

The Alien Registration Number will be mailed to the applicant within current processing time from the receipt of the application, unless USCIS requests further information or documentation. A foreign national can then use this number in place of a Social Security Number when applying for employment. It cannot be used to vote in Federal, state, and/or local elections, however.

Please note that the Alien Registration Number is different from an ITIN, which stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The Internal Revenue Service issues an ITIN to a non-citizen who cannot get a Social Security Number but needs to report taxable income or claim tax benefits. The number also may be used by other taxpayers who do not have or are not eligible for a Social Security Number.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns the individual taxpayer identification number to aliens who must file United States tax returns but are not eligible for a social security number. It serves as an alternative to a social security number for individuals who are not eligible to obtain a social security number. The individual taxpayer identification number is nine digits long and has the format nnn-in-xxxx.

Although the Internal Revenue Service issues an ITIN, it is entirely different from a Social Security Number (SSN). The IRS gives ITINs to individuals who need an identifier to file tax returns but are not eligible for an SSN