Selective Service Green Card Process
July 22, 2021
Going through the naturalization process in order to gain citizenship in the United States requires the commitment to show that you believe in the U.S. constitution and are willing to stand by the principles of America and remain in good standing. This claim to commitment to America needs to be put to action. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Policy Manual states that a person applying for naturalization, under certain conditions, must register for Selective Service.
Selective service for immigrants is a large part of the process of becoming a citizen. But what happens if you don’t register for selective service? More likely than not, your application for naturalization will be denied. Let’s look at what selective service means and the steps you need to take to register for selective service.
Selective Service and citizenship applies for men who are between the ages of 18 and 26. Men in this age demographic must register for Selective Service. Although there is no military draft anymore in the United States (as of January 1973), the United States still keeps track of eligible men who can fight on behalf of the United States in case of a national defense emergency.
The Selective Service System is a list of eligible men who can be called into a military draft under 50 U.S. Code Ch. 49. When registering for Selective Service, you are not committing to join the military. You are registering to commit to the United States armed forces in the event that a massive emergency or war breaks out.
All men between the ages of 18 and 26 must register for Selective Service. This means that even if you are not a U.S. citizen, you must register if you are staying in the United States. This includes people who are:
No exceptions to the Selective Service rule are made for those who are are undocumented or are in the United States illegally. There are special rules that also apply if you have surpassed the age of 26.
When you file your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and you are a male between the ages of 18 to 26, you are expected to both know about and register for Selective Service. If you apply for U.S. citizenship and do not register for Selective Service, your application for citizenship will be denied. Not registering shows the USCIS that you are willfully not accepting the conditions of U.S. citizenship, and therefore make you ineligible to become a citizen.
Being 26 to 31 years of age, you are technically outside the age of registering for Selective Service. That being said, you still need to prove to USCIS that you are in good moral standing to become a U.S. Citizen. Speak with your immigration lawyer about your options if you are applying for naturalization after your turn 26.
As a rule of thumb, you need to show at least five years of good moral character. Since five years from 26 is 31, many people wait to apply for naturalization until they are 31 years old. An exception to the five-year moral standing role is if you are applying for naturalization under the circumstance that you are married or living with a U.S. citizen. In that case, you only need to show three years of good moral character.
Depending on your particular situation, you may consider waiting until either age 29 or 31 to apply for naturalization if you are 26 years old. Again, speak with your naturalization attorney about the best option. There are various ways to obtain citizenship without getting denied.
Most men between 18 to 26 need to register for their selective service green card, which is just selective service while filing your Form N-400. However, there are groups of people who do not need to. Those groups include nonimmigrant visa status holders, such as H1-B and L-1 visas. If you are already in the armed forces, you also do not have to register. Speak with your immigration attorney to see if you qualify for selective service exemption.
One of the requirements for the naturalization process is that you have good moral character. Registering for selective service shows this attribute. A man needs to register for selective service within 30 days after he turns 18 and before he turns 26.
When you do file for naturalization, you will fill out Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. With this form, USCIS can give your information to the Selective Service System, yet filing the form does not guarantee that USCIS will do this. To make sure you are fully registered, you should register yourself to ensure you are fulfilling Selective Service requirements.
Failure to register with selective service could jeopardize your chances of gaining citizenship. The USCIS may see you as not in good moral standing and deny your application for naturalization. You may have to wait until you are in good moral standing with the 3 or 5 year rule, depending. The USCIS assumes that you knew you had to register. Therefore, if you do not register, the failure to register with selective service could be seen as you willingly and intentionally not following good moral character.
If you did not know you had to register for selective service yet have filed for naturalization, then you can take steps to prove to USCIS that you did not willfully fail to register. You do have the option of waiting until you are 29 or 31, yet if you want to apply for citizenship before then, you need to provide a reason why you failed to register with selective service. Along with your Form N-400, you need to present:
A Selective Service Letter of Explanation example states that you are over the age of registering for selective service, and therefore are not required to register. Consult your immigration and naturalization attorney for the best way to draft your Selective Service Letter of Explanation.
The experienced naturalization and immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. are here to answer any questions about registering for Selective Service and the naturalization process in general. With over 70 years of combined experience, we can walk you through the process of selective service, green card, and all topics immigration. Contact us at 312.444.1940 today.