Law Office of Marc J. Smith, LLC
Employment Law and Litigation Counsel

Selective Service Blog

If you are a male between 18 and 25 years of age, the Military Selective Service Act requires you to register with the Selective Service System — the Agency responsible for maintaining information on those potentially eligible for military service in the event the United States government deems it necessary to implement a military draft.  Most male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to have registered within 30 days of their 18th birthday.  If you are a male between 18 and 25 years of age, you may register on-line by clicking here.  You can check to see if you are properly registered here.

Perhaps surprisingly, many non-citizens are required to register, including illegal aliens, legal permanent residents, and refugees.  Noncitizens who are notrequired to register with Selective Service include men who are in the U.S. on student or visitor visas, and men who are part of a diplomatic or trade mission and their families.  Generally, if a male non-citizen takes up residency in the U.S. before his 26th birthday, he must register with Selective Service.  The Selective Service System has published a useful chart detailing who must register.

Fortunately, the U.S. government has not in recent history actively pursued prosecution of individuals who have failed to register with the Selective Service System.  However, there are significant other penalties that are imposed upon individuals who were required to register, but fail to do so before their 26th birthday.  For example, eligible males who have failed to register may not be able to obtain federal student loans or grants.  Failing to register when required to do so also results in a permanent bar for federal employment unless the individual can demonstrate to the Office of Personnel Management, by a preponderance of the evidence, that their failure to register was not “knowing and willful.”  You have two opportunities to do this — an “initial determination” (which almost always results in an adverse decision) and an appeal to the Director of the OPM.  It is therefore vital to ensure that your case is thoroughly prepared and presented to OPM in the proper form.

OPM Rules In Favor Of Two More Selective Service “Failure to Register” Clients

In recent months, I have taken on a number of cases involving federal employees whose job was in jeopardy due to their failure to register with the Selective Service.  In a previous post, I reported that OPM had ruled in favor of one client, who had lived in Africa for the better part of his life until he returned to the United States when he was 22 years of age.  In that case, after considering our request for reconsideration, OPM determined that we had presented sufficient information to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the failure to register with the Selective Service was neither knowing nor willful.  As a result, my client was able to keep his job with the IRS.

My most recent cases, while involving similar fact patterns (both clients also worked for the IRS), had an additional twist — my clients had initially entered the country illegally before obtaining their U.S. citizenship.  Like my previous client, these individuals did not become aware of the Selective Service registration requirements until after they reached 26 years of age — by which time it was too late to register (men must register prior to attaining 26 years of age).

With the assistance of the Selective Service (contact me if you are interested in finding out how Selective Service assisted my clients), we were able to convince OPM that the failure to register was neither knowing nor willful and both of my clients were able to continue their federal employment.  A just result in both cases.

Marc Smith