Skip to Main Content

Selective Service and Your Citizenship Application

Failure to Register with the Selective Service Can Hurt Your U.S. Citizenship Application

What is Selective Service?


The Selective Service System is used by the U.S. federal government to keep a name of all eligible men in the United States who could be called upon to serve in the armed forces during a national emergency or time of war. Registering with the Selective Services does NOT mean that you are signing up to join the armed forces as a job or career path.

Who is Required to Register?

Almost all men between the ages of 18 and 25 must register. This includes:

  • US citizens
  • US citizens living abroad
  • Lawful Permanent Residents
  • Seasonal agricultural workers (H-2A visa holders)
  • Refugees, parolees, and asylees
  • Nonimmigrant visa holders who failed to maintain legal status for more than 30 days
  • Undocumented (illegal) aliens. Yes, even if you are in the United States without the proper documentation, you are required to register with the Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Recipients

Who is Not Required to Register?

There are very few exceptions from the Selective Service registration requirement. The following are the primary exceptions:

  • Women
  • Lawful non-immigrants on valid, unexpired non-immigrant visas
  • Aliens who entered the US after age 26
  • Those hospitalized, committed to mental institutions, or incarcerated; however, they must register within 30 days after being released if they have not yet reached their 26th birthday

Will registering with the Selective Service cause me to be deported if I am here illegally?

No, the information you provide to the Selective Service does not include your immigration status, and the Selective Service agency does not refer your information to immigration enforcement.

I didn’t register with Selective Service, and now I’m applying for US citizenship. Will this hurt my application?

It depends. There are three common scenarios:

  1. If you are applying for citizenship while you are between the ages of 18 and 26 years old, your failure to register makes you ineligible for US citizenship. In this case, we recommend that you register with Selective Service as soon as possible.
  2. If you are applying for citizenship while you are between the ages of 26 and 31 years old, your failure to register may make you ineligible. You will have to convince the officer reviewing your citizenship application that you did not knowingly and intentionally fail to register.
  3. If you are applying for citizenship while you are over 31 years old, your failure to register should not impact your eligibility for citizenship. This is because more than 5 years have passed since you were required to register. You do, however, have to request and receive notice from the Selective Service regarding your registration status to provide to the immigration officer.

How do I Register for the Selective Service?

You can pick up a registration packet at your local post office, or you can register online at