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The Selective Service


WRITTEN BY: Narisara P. Jongjarearn -Tasanont, Attorney at Law

Today I will discuss the requirement of registering with the Selective Service.  Almost all men between ages 18 and 25 must register with the Selective Service System whether a U.S. citizen or not.  Registration allows the government to collect information about men ages 18-25.  They need this information in case there is a national emergency and there are not enough men in the military.  The Selective Service can help by to providing manpower to the armed forces in an emergency and by running an Alternative Service Program for men classified as conscientious objectors during a draft.

It’s important to know that even though registered, a man will not automatically be inducted into the military. In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth. Then, they would be examined for mental, physical and moral fitness by the military before being deferred or exempted from military service or inducted into the Armed Forces.  So just because a man is registered does not mean he will be drafted.  No can be drafted until Congress passes and the President signs legislation which starts a draft.    A draft would most likely occur during war or a national emergency.  Men ages 26 or older will usually not be drafted.

People often ask me if women are required to register and if not, why?  Well, the Selective Service law as it’s written now refers specifically to “male persons” in stating who must register and who would be drafted. For women to be required to register with Selective Service, Congress would have to amend the law.

Although being drafted may sound frightening, there has not been a draft since 1973.  So if you are a man living in the United States and you are between ages 18 and 25, you must register with the Selective Service System.  Not registering is a felony.  Anyone convicted of not registering may be fined up to $250,000, imprisoned for up to 5 years, or both.

Besides avoiding a possible conviction for not registering, there are benefits to registering.  Many federal and state laws require registration with the Selective Service to be eligible for applying for student financial aid, government employment, and U.S. Citizenship.  With regard to U.S. Citizenship, men who have not registered by age 25 will not be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship until they turn 31 years old.

Registration with Selective Service continues at any post office, station, and branch for men who are ages 18 through 25, U.S. citizens or not. Registration can also be done online at

If you or someone you know would like to apply for U.S. naturalization, please call 323-664-7131 for more information.  As a lawyer I will give you legal advice and personally review your application.  After we submit your application we will always be here to answer your questions.  We have been doing this for over 20 years.

Narisara P. Jongjarearn-Tasanont works out of her law office in Los Angeles. She is also the Executive Director of the Thai American Citizens Alliance. She is an active member of the State Bar of California and the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association. You can make an appointment by calling for a consultation to discuss your legal concerns. The contents of this article are not intended as individualized legal advice.

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