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All You Need to Know About Selective Service Registration for Immigrants

If you're a male immigrant in the US, then you have probably heard about Selective Service Registration.

So what is it, anyway? Are you required to sign up? And what will happen if you don't?

This article contains everything you need to know about the Selective Service System.

What is Selective Service Registration?

Run by the Selective Service System, this “draft” does not necessarily mean you must assume military service right away.

See, the US military and armed forces has been on a voluntary basis since 1973. But in times of national emergency, Congress may reinstate the draft. With the Russian incursion in Ukraine, this is a possibility.

And should such a crisis happen, the United States Government will draw Selective Service draftees according to a random lottery number and their date of birth.

You will then be examined if you are mentally, physically, and morally fit to serve under the U.S. flag. If not, you may be exempted or deferred from the draft.

Who Should Register With Selective Service?

According to Federal law, all men aged 18-25—both citizens and immigrants—must register for selective service.

By immigrants, it means legal permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, and even undocumented immigrants.

Transgender immigrants who transitioned from male to female are also required to sign up.

US Citizens are required to sign up within 30 days after they've turned 18. On the other hand, immigrants should register within 30 days of their arrival.

The US Government is lenient enough to accept late registrations until age 26. However, it's best to sign up within the recommended time, especially for immigrants since you need ample time to comply selective service registration requirement.

Who are Exempted From the Selective Service System?

As mentioned, male immigrants aged 18-26 must sign up for Selective Service. However, you may be exempted, granted you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Active-duty Military duty
  • Enrollment in the Officer Procurement Program
  • Cadet/midshipman status at Coast Guard academies
  • Hospitalized, incarcerated, or institutionalized status
  • Handicapped (with continuous confinement)

Individuals who hold non-immigrant visas (up until age 26) are exempt from Selective Service. The same goes for transgender immigrants who transitioned from female to male.

How to Register With Selective Service

Once you meet the criteria above, you’ll then move to the process of registering with the Selective Service System.

Step 1: Sign Up

There are two options for signing up:

  • Through the Official Website of the United States Government

Visit and provide the following information:

  • Full name
  • Home/mailing address
  • Social security number (valid SSN)
  • Contact number
  • Email address
  • Through Snail Mail

You can visit your nearby post office to get a registration form. You can also download a copy here.

Once you complete filling up the form, make sure to mail it to the Selective Service System PO box in Palatine, Illinois.

Step 2: Submit the Necessary Documents

Apart from submitting your registration form, you'll also need to forward copies of these documents:

  • Foreign passport bio-page and page with CBP entry stamp
  • Green card
  • Driver's license or any ID issued by federal or state agencies I-94 form
  • USCIS I-766 Employment card

If you're exempted from Selective Service, make sure to submit proof of your confinement, institutionalization, or incarceration.

Step 3: Wait for the Selective Service Registration Acknowledgment Letter

Within 90 days of registering, you should be able to receive a status information letter and a card with your Selective Service Number. Keep them as you might need them for your citizenship interview.

If you haven't received your card within the same period or if there is an error on your card, contact the Selective Service System hotline at 1-847-688-6888. Their office is opening hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST), Mondays to Fridays, except for Federal Holidays.

Step 4: Update Your Information

Remember: you need to keep your data updated until you turn 26. As such, you need to contact the agency if you change your name or move to another address.

If you've lost your letter or card, you can get another copy through the Verify Registration link.

What Happens if You Don't Register With Selective Service?

You'll end up jeopardizing your chances of getting your citizenship!

Plus, you will be deemed ineligible for various benefits, such as:

  • State-sponsored student aid
  • Federal job training and/or employment

If the United States Government proves that you’ve violated the Selective Service act, you may be jailed for five years. You will also be fined a handsome amount of $250,000. This is where you’ll need the help of an immigration attorney to get out of this mess.

Final Words

Male immigrants aged 18-26 must sign up for Selective Service. Should you decide to forego this Federal requirement, you will be ineligible to attain US citizenship. You also won't enjoy various benefits, such as state aid and Federal employment.

This may come up during your interview, so make sure to register with the Selective Service System within 30 days of your arrival.

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