Naturalization and Selective Service Registration

If you are a male that wants to apply for citizenship in the United States, and at any time between your 18th and 26th birthday you live in the US, you are required to register for the Selective Service.

But what happens if you fail to register with the Selective Service and want to apply for citizenship/naturalization? Your application for naturalization may be denied.

To become a naturalized United States Citizen, an application must show that he is a person “attached to” (believes in) the principles of the Constitution of the United States and is “well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States” during the five years immediately before the application is filed.

In general, immigration officers consider if an applicant for naturalization refused or knowingly and willfully failed to register for the Selective Service, and often decide that if that is the case, the applicant does not have the “disposition to the good order and happiness of the United States,” is not “attached to” the principles of the Constitution, and is not of good moral character.

And on that basis alone, can deny an application for citizenship. However, there are ways of overcoming an applicant’s failure to register with the Selective Service. If you are between the ages of 18 and 26 and would like to apply for naturalization, but have failed to register with the Selective Service, then you should register before submitting your application for naturalization.

If you are between the ages of 26 and 31 and failed to register for the Selective Service, it is likely that your application for naturalization will be denied. It is recommended that you wait until you are over 31 years old to apply, since the “statutorily prescribed period” that officers look back on is only the previous five years.

If you are unable to wait until you are 31 years old, then you will need to present evidence that your failure to register with the selective service was not willful and was an innocent oversight. However, the “burden of proof” falls on you, and you have to prove it to the immigration officer, which is not an easy thing to do.

Finally, if you are over 31 years old and failed to register with the Selective Service, this will generally not prevent you from naturalizing. This is because your failure to register is outside the five year “statutorily prescribed period” during which you must demonstrate good moral character.

An experienced immigration attorney from the Law Office of Casais and Prias can help you navigate through the technicalities of applying for US Citizenship. Our experienced immigration lawyers will assist you in filling out and submitting your citizenship application, will prepare you for your naturalization interview, and will attend the interview with you.

Contact our office today to set up a free case evaluation.