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N-400 How to explain Selective Service Issue?

Marietta, GA |

I originally entered the U.S. on a tourist visa in my early 20s. I stayed on and was out of status for a few years (including at least a year before my 26th birthday). Luckily, I was the beneficiary of a visa petition filed between Jan 15 1998 and April 30, 2001 and was able to adjust my status to get a work visa and then later a green card when I was in my mid 30s. I did not register for Selective Service as I never thought I was eligible to do so. In such a case, is it fairly straight forward to get a status letter from Selective Service by explaining that I only became a permanent resident in my mid 30s - Will being out of status prior to my 26th birthday complicate matters?

I will state "yes" for Section G 33 of the N-400. But I would still need to explain why I did not register.

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Attorney answers 6


Tell the truth and it will be a big deal.

NYC EXPERIENCED IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS; email:; Phone: (866) 456-­8654; Fax: 212-964-0440; Cell: 212-202-0325. The information contained in this answer is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.


Yes, do an affidavit, with the help of an attorney.

The above is intended only as general information, and does not constitute legal advice. You must speak with an attorney to discuss your individual case.


You will need to check yes and explain why you did not register - specifically USCIS wants to confirm that you did not wilfully fail to register - most of my clients had no clue they were required to register because of unfamiliary with our selective service system and laws. You should ask for a selective service status information letter. You can find instructions on how to get the letter (it is very simple) at the link listed below. You should also consult a qualified immigration attorney for assistance with your naturalization application - it's what we do. Best of luck to you.


It would be very helpful for you to consult with an immigration attorney not through avvo.

You can request a Request for Status Information letter from SSS with the explanation you just gave. However, if you read the N400 very carefully, you see that you do not need to register or get a letter from SSS (because you are older than 26); you only need to provide this explanation as an attachment.

You might want to be careful with this. Although not specifically stated in the statute or the regulations, failure to comply with the Selective Service registration requirement may be a ground for finding that an applicant is not a person of good moral character, if he knowingly and willfully failed to register. In addition to raising concerns relating to good moral character, failure to register raises concerns regarding attachment to principles of the Constitution, and being well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States, as well as the requirement that an applicant be willing to bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law. Applicants who are required to register but who failed to do so will be denied on the basis of an unwillingness to bear arms and also as not being disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. Your failure to register would be outside of the statutory five-year period, but USCIS will want to be assured that the applicant is a currently a person of good moral character.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to help.


By telling the truth.

J Charles Ferrari Eng & Nishimura 213.622.2255 The statement above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo can only be general ones, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. As such, they may or may not apply to the question.


Here in Atlanta, Georgia this not typically a big issue for immigration officers; however, you will definitely want to include an affidavit explaining what you have explained above as well as a selective service verification statement in your initial N-400 filing. If you have already filed the N-400, just be sure to take these items to the naturalization interview. You should also consider taking an attorney with you to your interview to further explain the issue to the immigration officer.