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 Client Despite Fact That Selective Service Had No Record of Registration

On December 1, 2011, OPM issued a favorable determination on behalf of another client with a Selective Service registration issue.  Our client, who was born in the United States, specifically recalled mailing his registration form soon after he turned 18 years of age.  Unfortunately, the Selective Service System had no record of our client’s registration.  We were unable to determine why Selective Service had not received our client’s registration.  As noted by a GAO report prepared in the 80’s, it was estimated that thousands of Selective Service records were input with incorrect social security numbers and/or names.   A similar error could certainly have accounted for the fact that Selective Service had no record of our client’s registration.

Fortunately, we were able to obtain substantial corroborating evidence that our client did indeed mail his registration form through the testimony of family members, personal friends and others.  Upon reviewing that information and other supporting documentation, OPM ruled that our client’s Selective Service registration status was not the result of a knowing and willful act on his part.  

Marc Smith