Selective Service Registration

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 What is Selective Service Registration?

The federal government of the United States has established numerous agencies and programs which implement and enforce the laws. Government agencies that individuals may be familiar with may include:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): This agency is charged with implementing environmental laws;
  • The Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF): This agency enforces laws relating to alcohol, tobacco, and firearms; and
  • The Social Security Administration: This program provides individuals with social security benefits.

In addition, individual states have agencies that benefit and protect their citizens. In general, government agencies perform three categories of services, including:

  • Implementation: When the legislative branch of the U.S. government creates a policy or a law, there is a coordinating agency that is charged with implementing that law;
    • For example, when the government passes an environmental law, the Environmental Protection Agency may be used to implement the law;
  • Entitlement: Entitlement agencies are designed to provide benefits to and to guarantee the rights of individuals;
    • One example of an entitlement agency is the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration provides disability and retirement benefits to individuals who are entitled to them; and
  • Enforcement: Certain agencies are created to enforce the law;
    • One example of an enforcement agency is the Department of Justice. Violations of the law are investigated by the Department of Justice. This department also arrests and charges individuals who have criminally violated the law.

The Selective Service is a government program in the United States through which the government compiles a list of names of all of the men in the country in case a military draft occurs. Since 1973, the military has been an all-voluntary organization.

The U.S. government requires all men ages 18 to 25 years of age to register in case a national emergency occurs where the military would have to be expanded. Selective Service registration was created by the United States government and the armed forces as a manner of keeping track of which males may be called into military action in case of a national emergency.

Males ages 18 to 26 years of age are generally required to register with the Selective Service. If an individual registers with the Selective Service, it does not mean that the individual is joining the United States military.

Instead, the individual is simply informing the government that they may be contacted for service in the future, should a national emergency require them to be called to duty. In the event that a war or a national emergency occurs, it is not likely that all of the individuals who have registered will be called to serve.

According to the government Selective Service website, registered men will be called in a sequence that is determined by a random lottery number and their year of birth. After selection, the male candidates will be examined for several categories of fitness for military service, including:

  • Mental;
  • Physical; and
  • Moral.

Who Must Register?

Men who are between the ages of 18 and 25 years of age are required to register. There are a select few groups of males who are not required to register, discussed below.

All other citizens and permanent residents are required to register, including only sons. Even an illegal alien is required to register with the Selective Service.

These individuals are included to ensure that if a draft occurs, it will be done fairly. In relation to immigrants, there are also rules these male individuals are required to follow.

Every male immigrant between the ages of 18 and 26 years of age is required to register with the Selective Service, including:

  • Men with lawful permanent resident status, such as green card holders;
  • Undocumented aliens;
  • Certain seasonal and special agricultural workers; and
  • Aliens with certain statuses, including:
    • Parolees;
    • Refugees; or
    • Asylees.

If the individual is already 26 years of age, they are not required to register with the Selective Service. On the other hand, if an individual fails to register when they are required to do so, it may result in strict legal penalties.

How Do I Register?

A male in the United States is required to register within 30 days of turning 18 years old. They can register by completing a Selective Service form.

This form is available at United States post offices as well as online. If the individual is still in high school, there may be a staff member at their school who acts as a Selective Service Registrar.

Selective Service registration forms may be mailed to:

Selective Service System
P.O. Box 94739
Palatine, IL 60094-4638

Who is Exempt from Selective Service Registration?

There are only a select few groups of individuals who are exempt from Selective Service registration. The only males who are not required to register include:

  • Nonimmigrant males;
  • Males with temporary visas;
  • Men who are on active duty in the military; and
  • Cadets in military colleges.

In relation to immigrants, males who are incarcerated or are on certain visas are not required to register. The excluded visa categories include:

  • Student;
  • Visitor; and
  • Diplomatic.

What Happens if I Don’t Register?

An individual may face prosecution for their failure to register for the Selective Service. Failing to register may result in a jail sentence of 5 years as well as fines of $250,000.

An individual should also keep in mind that registration with the Selective Service may be required for certain programs, including:

  • Federal employment;
  • Student aid; and
  • Job training benefits.

If an individual failed to register and they are being denied state or federal benefits, they may still be able to obtain those benefits in certain situations if they are able to provide evidence that they did not avoid registering intentionally. If an individual has registered, they can find out their registration number by calling the following phone number: 1-847-688-6888.

In relation to immigrants, a failure to register with the Selective Services when required to do so may result in the same consequences as listed above. In addition, registration with the Selective Service is typically required inorder to qualify for:

  • Federal job training;
  • Federal benefits; and
  • Federal financial aid.

In addition, failing to register with the Selective Service can negatively affect an individual’s chances for naturalization. In order for an individual to qualify for naturalization, or to become a United States citizen, the applicant is required to demonstrate their loyalty to the United States as well as their willingness to uphold the Constitution.

If an individual does not register with the Selective Service, it may be viewed as a form of unwillingness to uphold the Constitution through the bearing of arms or other support. Therefore, individuals who are seeking naturalization should ensure that they register with the Selective Service if they are required to do so.

Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with These Issues?

For the most part, you likely will not need the assistance of a government lawyer for registering with the Selective Service. The registration process is fairly straightforward, as all males between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register.

If you are an immigrant, the Selective Service requirement is often an integral part of immigration law. If you have any issues, questions, or concerns related to the Selective Service and immigration laws, it may be helpful to contact a lawyer.

When you are a citizen or an immigrant, your lawyer can assist you with Selective Service requirements and can help ensure that you are meeting all of the rules and regulations under the law.

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