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.

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

his 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.

Marc Smith