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Failure to Register with Selective Service — OPM Rules in Favor of Two Clients

This week, the Director of OPM issued his determination that several of my clients (one is an employee of the U.S. Department of Defense and the other an applicant with the U.S. Mint), had overcome the presumption that their failure to register with the Selective Service had been knowing and willful.

The fact pattern of one case closely resembled many of the other Selective Service cases I have handled. Our client, who was born in India, first arrived in the United States as a student with a non-immigrant visa. Our client had no knowledge of the Selective Service registration requirements at the time of his arrival, nor did he learn about these requirements during his studies. Our client became a conditional resident prior to age 26 and was thereafter required to register, but he did not because he had not learned about the Selective Service. The twist in this case was that Selective Service allegedly mailed a number of notices to our client regarding his obligation to register.

OPM immediately focused on the fact that Selective Service had allegedly notified our client in writing of his registration obligation. Fortunately, we were able to produce evidence that our client had moved prior to the mailing of these notices. With this and the sworn statements from family members, co-workers and friends and other evidence, we were able to persuade OPM that our client's failure to register was not knowing or willful.

The other case also involved an interesting twist. Our client was also born outside the United States and first arrived in the country as a teen. Our client had failed to register with the Selective Service when he was eligible because he was not aware of the registration requirement. However, our client voluntarily entered the service in his thirties and is an active member of the National Guard. Clearly, as a member of the country's military, it was plain his failure to register was not a knowing and willful act, a fact that OPM clearly recognized.