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.

Another Favorable First Level Determination Issued by OPM

As I have written previously, from a historical perspective, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has almost always issued negative determinations with regard to first-level reviews in Selective Service failure to register cases, no matter how favorable the facts.  While we have obtained favorable results in all of our Selective Service cases, it has been our experience that OPM will not issue favorable determinations until the second-level review is conducted by OPM’s Director or his designee.  In January 2012, we obtained our first favorable first-level determination.   Yesterday, we received notice that another client also received a favorable first-level determination — i.e. a finding that his failure to register was not knowing and willful.

Our client, who works as a wildland firefighter on the west coast, actually submitted his Selective Service registration when he was approximately 18 years of age, but Selective Service had no record of receiving his registration card.  Fortunately, our client’s family was able to corroborate the fact that he had mailed his registration card and OPM determined that this was enough to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that his failure to register was not knowing and willful.

This case would appear to indicate that OPM is indeed giving Selective Service cases a more thorough and fair review at the first level — a very welcome change to those individuals who have unknowingly failed to register with the Selective Service.

Marc Smith