Registering for the Selective Service is the law, and it's also very important for non-citizens, who hope to one day become citizens.
Who must register?
It is US law that every male between the ages of 18-25 register for the selective service, "the draft," within 30 days of their 18th birthday. If someone registering does not have a social security number, they should print the form, provided at the link below, and mail it to the address listed. The law applies to every male living in the US, including non-citizens, regardless of immigration status, so long as they are residing here. If someone is here with in a valid non-immigrant status, such as student, exchange visitor, or on a work visa, they are not required to register. However, if their legal status ends and they remain in the US, they are then required to then register with Selective Service.
Does this mean I have to serve in the military?
While technically registration means that the person could be called up to serve the country in case of war, there is no compulsory military service, or draft, in the US. It was abolished in 1973, when the United States changed to have an all-volunteer military, and is highly unlikely to be reinstated.
Immigration consequences of registration
It is very important to comply with this law for immigration reasons. Eventually, a person who is not currently a green card holder may wish to adjust his status and then, after the appropriate amount of time has passed, get US citizenship through naturalization. The form one fills out to apply for naturalization asks the questions, "Are you a male who lived in the United States any time between his 18th and 26th birthdays?" and "If you answered "Yes," when did you register for the Selective Service?" The person seeking to become a citizen must then enter the date of registration and number issued to him upon registration (which is easily looked up on line). If someone did register, then it is evidence of good moral character necessary for naturalization. If not, it may delay the ability to apply for naturalization.
Immigration consequences of not registering
What if you are 26 or older and didn't register? Failure to register for Selective Service will generally not, on its own, prevent a man who is over 31 years of age from naturalization. There is a statutory period of five years during which an applicant for naturalization must demonstrate that he is of "good moral character and disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States." Registration for Selective Service demonstrates this, but the government only looks back 5 years. Once someone is 31 years old, the government generally does not hold it against a person for failing to register for Selective Service (in the absence of other issues that raise questions of character). However, one who does not register will not be permitted to receive federal student aid, and many states prohibit state benefits, including state jobs, to one who hasn't registered, and many states also require registration to receive a driver's license.
Spread the word to young men, they really should register!
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