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.

Favorable Selective Service Determination Obtained for High-Level Government Official

Recently, we had the pleasure of representing a very high-level government employee of one of the largest federal agencies in the U.S. Government.  Our client, who started his federal career 21 years ago as a low level postal employee, had worked his way up to the highest echelons of his present agency.  Unfortunately, our client had failed to register with the Selective Service when he immigrated to the United States in his early 20’s and did not learn of the existence of the registration requirement until he was far too old to register.

Our client’s failure to register did not raise any red flags with his various federal employers until just recently, after 21 years of federal service.  We have had other clients who found themselves in similar situations with their positions in jeopardy after many years of loyal service to the U.S. government.  Agencies are supposed to verify Selective Service registration status during the hiring process.  These cases demonstrate that an employee’s Selective Service registration status is subject to scrutiny at any time, even after many years of employment.

At the time he discovered his predicament, our client was being considered for a position that would require congressional confirmation, which further complicated the problem.  Fortunately, OPM timely determined that our client’s failure to register was not a knowing and willful violation, thus clearing him to maintain his federal position.

Marc Smith