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How is Selective Service related to my naturalization process?

When you came to the United States as a legal permanent resident, you may have heard someone tell you about the importance of signing up for Selective Service. Perhaps you did not understand the concept of Selective Service, or maybe you just never got around to looking it up online or stopping by the closest post office for information.

Now that you are preparing to go through the process of naturalization, the idea of Selective Service may be more important than ever. In fact, if you did not sign up with this agency, you may wonder if your chances of obtaining approval for citizenship may be in jeopardy.

Do I have to register?

Selective Service is a way in which the federal government keeps track of the number of men available at any given time if the U.S. should face a national emergency, such as a war. Signing up for Selective Service does not mean you will be called to serve in the military. Currently, our armed forces are voluntary, so there is no draft in the United States. However, if the circumstances require building a larger military force, the president and Congress may bring back the draft.

Meanwhile, if you are a male green card holder between ages 18 and 26, it is your duty to register with Selective Service in most cases. In fact, failing to register is against the law unless you are among those who are exempt from registration, such as these and others:

  • Females
  • Those already enlisted in armed services or related services
  • Those in the United States under a visa program
  • Anyone whom the military denied enlistment
  • Individuals with physical or mental disabilities
  • Men who are in prison

Whether you are a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, if you do not register with Selective Service before turning 26, you face hundreds of thousands in fines and the risk of up to five years in prison. You will also be excluded from eligibility for federal services, such as financial aid and government employment.

Does failing to register affect your naturalization?

You are probably most concerned about how this will affect your bid for citizenship and your status in the U.S., especially if you have already reached age 26 but were in the country while eligible to register. In fact, your registration for Selective Service is required for approval as a naturalized citizen, and it is possible you will receive a denial, which may mean the revocation of your green card.

However, there are steps you can take to explain the reasons or causes related to your failure to register. By completing the appropriate forms and preparing a solid defense, you may be able to proceed confidently with your quest for citizenship.

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