Formerly Incarcerated Men Could Lose Out On Jobs and Other Opportunities if not Registered with Selective Service

Virtually all men living in the U.S. are required by law to register with Selective Service when they turn 18. If they don’t register before they turn 26, they can permanently lose access to government-funded job training programs, thousands of government jobs, college loans, and the ability to renew their driver’s license in most states. In addition, immigrant men wishing to become citizens can also significantly delay the process if they fail to register. These opportunities are important for any young man, but they are crucial for formerly incarcerated men trying to get back on their feet.

Over the years, Selective Service has received feedback that incarcerated young men are one of the populations least likely to know about the Selective Service registration requirement. This has severe consequences because there is a limited window upon being released in which an incarcerated man can follow the law and register.

Selective Service registration differs for incarcerated men because they are not required to register while they are in prison. However, men are required to register within 30 days of their release if they are 18 or older and have not yet turned 26. They are also required to register if they spent 30 consecutive days not incarcerated between the ages of 18 and 26. Additionally, men who are currently in prison CAN and SHOULD register before their 26th birthday if they entered prison after age 18.

Equally important, men who were incarcerated between the ages of 18 and 26 WITHOUT a break of 30 days or more are NOT required to register. They should make sure to get a STATUS LETTER upon release to facilitate the process of applying for job training, government jobs, or college loans.

It’s critical that all young men understand exactly how the Selective Service registration requirement affects them. To that end, Selective Service has put together a toolkit to help raise awareness among justice professionals and incarcerated young men. It features fast facts, social media posts, an infographic, and a PowerPoint presentation. It can be found here.

Men can learn more and register at

We are always looking for materials that we can add to improve this resource. If you have ideas for content that you would find useful, please contact the Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Department at 703.605.4100, or e-mail

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