New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Failure To Register For Selective Service And Citizenship

Author: Citizenship Attorney Alena Shautsova

Usually, when one tries to research information regarding naturalization requirements, he finds discussions regarding good moral character, physical presence requirements, criminal bars to citizenship, time in permanent residence status issue. However, there are other, less "popular" but nevertheless important requirements that a person must meet before his application for naturalization is granted.

One of such requirements is registration for selective service for male permanent residents between the ages 18 and 26. Please note that if a person lived in the U.S. during this time but in a lawful non-immigrant status, he is exempt from selective service registration. Also, somebody who was born after May 29, 1957 and before December 31, 1959, is also not required to register. If you did not reside in the U.S. between 18 and 26, you are also not required to meet this requirement.

The question, of course, arises when one fails to register for selective service during the required period of time. The consequences of such a failure will depend on applicant’s age and timing for naturalization submission.

As an initial matter, failure to register for selective service is a bar to receiving a U.S. citizenship. It means, that a person who was supposed to register and did not do so, will be barred from receiving a U.S. citizenship, and his application will be denied.

The good news is that it is not a permanent bar, and it has an “expiration” period; plus one can provide excuses for his omission. Generally, an applicant for naturalization who is over 31 years old, whose failure to register falls outside of the 5 year- good moral character period, will ordinary be found eligible for naturalization. If a person is under 26 at the time of filing for naturalization, he will be required to register. However, even a person under 31 years old who failed to register and who can demonstrate a good reason for such failure, still may be found eligible for naturalization.

One should remember, that there is no right to U.S. citizenship for those who are trying to naturalize. USCIS will exercise its discretion each time one submits an application. The reviewing officer is not barred from denying an application, if he/she determines that as a matter of discretion approval is not appropriate.

06 October 2015
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