Failure to Register for Selective Service


More commonly known as a “draft,” the military Selective Service registration is a requirement by male United States Citizens between the ages of 18 through 25.  This was enacted by the President in 1980 and the requirement also extends to green card holders, refugees, asylees, and others in that age group. Persons not required to register are those in temporary status, such as student visas or visitor visas.

If there is a failure to fulfill the requirement, an USCIS officer may request the applicant to submit a Status Information Letter along with their naturalization application.  This letter will indicate whether the requirement to register existed or not for this applicant.  The applicant must prove that his inability to register was not done knowingly or willfully. This will typically depend on the applicant’s age at the time of filing the naturalization application.  Those over the age of 30 will generally be able to show that he did not have an obligation to register.  However, others may need to show that they unknowingly failed to register.  Should this happen, potential future pitfalls can be avoided (like naturalization denial) if the issue is quickly addressed.

A knowing and willful failure to satisfy the requirement by those wanting to naturalize can result in a denial on their application.  This would show the applicant does not have “good moral character.”   The requirement of a good moral character is essential for persons to naturalize.  If the applicant does not register with the Selective Service, then he is not concerned with the good order and happiness of the United States, thus lacking good moral character.

If you are a young male applicant contemplating naturalization, it is important that you seek an attorney to assist you in these matters.  If you did not know that you had to register with the selective service, or did not register for some other reason, you will have to show by a preponderance of the evidence that it was a mistake.  An attorney can guide you on how to complete the process.  Typically, the attorney can help the applicant by assisting the applicant with completing a Status Information Letter.  Having an advocate help you on these matters is crucial given the high probability of a denial should an applicant fail to address the situation before filing their naturalization application.

Cynthia Waisman, an attorney, focuses her practice in the area of Immigration Law.  For more information, go to our website or call Tampa (813)279-6180 or Clearwater (727)712-2299.