• The Selective Service Requirement and Immigration
  • December 21, 2015 | Author: Alexander Joseph Segal
  • Law Firm: The Law Offices of Grinberg & Segal, PLLC - New York Office
  • Male U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and undocumented aliens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register for with the Selective Service System (SSS). The law requires that registration occur within 30 days of the person’s eighteenth birthday, but late registrations are accepted prior to the person turning 26 years of age. This article will provide a brief overview of the selective service requirement and immigration. To read our full article on the subject, please follow this link.

    Who is Required to Register?

    Male LPRs and aliens in the United States without lawful status are required to register for selective service. Asylees, refugees, and parolees are also required to register. Aliens on lawful nonimmigrant status are not required to register for selective service so long as they are in status. If an alien’s nonimmigrant status lapses while he is in the United States, he will be required to register.

    There are certain exceptions from the selective service requirement. These exceptions include military servicemen on active duty and students in certain officer procurement programs. Please follow this linkand scroll down to see a chart with all of the exceptions.

    Please note that the selective service requirement applies to any person who was born male, regardless of gender reassignment or gender identity.

    Special Concern for Undocumented Aliens

    First, it is possible to register with the SSS without having a social security number (SSN). The SSS does however advise that if an SSN is subsequently obtained, the registrant should inform the SSS.

    Second, the SSS states explicitly that it does not collect information about an alien’s immigration status and would not even have the means to do so.

    Automatic Registration for LPR Applicants

    When the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status, it will automatically submit the alien’s information to selective service if he is between the ages of 18 and 25 (note that if the Form I-485 is not accepted, the alien will not be registered).

    Adverse Consequences for not Meeting the Selective Service Requirement

    Failure to register for selective service constitutes a non-permanent bar to naturalization. A naturalization application who failed to register will have the opportunity to demonstrate that his or her failure to register was not a willful act (USCUS PM, V12, Ch7). Applicants for naturalization who failed to register and are between the ages of 18 and 25 will generally be found to be ineligible for naturalization. Because eligibility for naturalization requires that the applicant have been a person of good moral character (GMC) for 5 years, an applicant for naturalization between the ages of 26 and 31 who failed to register may be found ineligible for naturalization unless he can demonstrate that the failure to register was not knowing or willful. Applicants who are over the age of 31 and who failed to register will generally not be found ineligible for naturalization based on the failure to register.

    A conviction for violating, or a conspiracy to violate, selective service laws is a deportability ground INA § 237(a)(2)(D).


    Fulfilling the selective service registration requirement is required by law and is a painless process that entails no risk of adverse immigration consequences. There is no reason to not fulfill the requirement. If an applicant for naturalization is facing a bar to naturalization on account of his failure to register, he should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance.