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.

Recent Selective Service Cases

It has been some time since I updated the Selective Service portion of the blog.   Over the course of the past year, I have continued to handle a number of Selective Services cases that were adjudicated favorably by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  These cases involved applicants for federal positions who were deemed ineligible for federal service due to their failure to register with the Selective Service and a contractor who worked at a federal facility who was flagged for not having registered.  These cases involved various agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, Voice of America, Department of Defense and Department of Energy.

Most of these cases followed the typical fact pattern seen in many previous cases: many involved clients born outside of the United States;  others involved clients born and raised in the United States.  In each of these cases, we were able to convince OPM that our client’s failure to timely register with the Selective Service was not knowing and willful.  With that determination, each of these individuals was deemed eligible for federal employment.

Several cases did have unusual wrinkles.   One case involved a client who recalled registering while attending high school many years ago; however, the Selective Service Agency had no record of his registration.  We were able to obtain the affidavit of a classmate, who was active Air Force, who recalled our client’s registration from their high school days.  With this information, OPM determined that the fact that the Selective Service Agency had no record of our client’s registration did not result from a knowing and willful act on the part of our client.  In another case, our client had indeed registered — but two years late, when he was 28 years of age.  Selective Service had our client’s registration card but did not deem him timely registered.  On these facts, OPM determined that it was clear that our client had not intentionally avoided registering and deemed him eligible for federal employment.

Marc Smith