Almost all male U.S. citizens and male immigrants, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.
It's important to know that even though he is registered, a man will not automatically be inducted into the military. In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in a 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.
A CHART of who must register is also available in PDF.
With very few exceptions, all males between ages 18 and 25 must register with the Selective Service System (SSS) within 30 days of arriving in the United States. This includes U.S. born and naturalized citizens, parolees, undocumented immigrants, legal permanent residents, asylum seekers, refugees, and all males with visas of any kind which expired more than 30 days ago. The few individuals who are exempt from this requirement are those on current non-immigrant visas. A complete list of acceptable documentation for exemption may be found here.
The Selective Service System has not now, or in the past, collected or shared any information which would indicate a man's immigration status, either documented or undocumented. Selective Service has no authority to collect such information, has no use for it, and it is irrelevant to the registration requirement. Consequently, there is no immigration data to share with anyone.
The general rule is that if a male non-citizen takes up residency in the U.S. before his 26th birthday, he must register with Selective Service. For a more detailed list of which non-citizens must register, see WHO MUST REGISTER - CHART in PDF.
Dual nationals of the U.S. and another country are required to register, regardless of where they live, because they are U.S. nationals. See also U.S. NON-CITIZENS AND DUAL NATIONALS - LIABILITY FOR SERVICE.
RESIDENTS OF PUERTO RICO, GUAM, VIRGIN ISLANDS, NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS, REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS, THE FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA, AMERICAN SAMOA, AND PALAU
Residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands are U.S. citizens. Citizens of American Samoa are nationals and must register when they are habitual residents in the United States or reside in the U.S. for at least one year. Habitual residence is presumed and registration is required whenever a national or a citizen of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or Palau, resides in the United States for more than one year in any status, except when the individual resides in the U.S. as an employee of the government of his homeland; or as a student who entered the U.S. for the purpose of full-time studies, as long as such person maintains that status.
Young men in prisons do not have to register while they are committed. However, they must register within 30 days after being released if they have not yet reached their 26th birthday.
Disabled men who live at home must register with Selective Service. A friend or relative may help a disabled man fill out the registration form if he can't do it himself.
Men with disabilities that would disqualify them from military service still must register with Selective Service. To clarify, there is a difference between exemption of the requirement of men to register with Selective Service and the classification of ability to serve in times of a national emergency. Selective Service does not presently have the authority to classify men for national service. Furthermore, even men with obvious handicaps must register now, and if needed, classifications would be determined later.
The requirements for exemption from registration are as follows:
- If a man is placed in a hospital, nursing home, long-term care facility, or mental institution on or before his 18th birthday, had no breaks of institutionalization of 30 days or longer, and remained institutionalized the entire time until his 26th birthday, he is not required to register.
- If he is confined to home, whether his own or someone else's (including group homes), on or before his 18th birthday and cannot leave the home without medical assistance (i.e., by ambulance, or with the help of a registered or licensed nurse or EMT), and remained homebound until his 26th birthday, he is not required to register.
FULL-TIME MILITARY EXEMPTED FROM REQUIREMENT*
Young men serving in the military on full-time active duty do not have to register, if serving continuously from age 18 to age 26. Those attending the service academies do not have to register. However, if a young man joins the military after turning 18 or leaves the military before turning 26, he must register. (See NOTE below.)
NATIONAL GUARD AND RESERVES*
Members of the Reserve and National Guard not on full-time active duty must register. (See NOTE below.)
Men, who would be classified as CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS if they were drafted, must register with Selective Service. If a draft begins and they are called, they would have the opportunity to file a claim for exemption from military service based upon their religious or moral objection to war.
Individuals who are born female and changed their gender to male are not required to register. U.S. citizens or immigrants who are born male and changed their gender to female are still required to register.
OPM notes that "transgender" refers to people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from the sex assigned to them at birth (e.g. the sex listed on an original birth certificate). The OPM Guidance further explains that the term "transgender woman" typically is used to refer to someone who was assigned the male sex at birth but who identifies as a female. Likewise, OPM provides that the term "transgender man" typically is used to refer to someone who was assigned the female sex at birth but who identifies as male.
NOTE: Transgender students are welcome to contact Selective Service regarding their registration requirements if they are unclear about how they should answer Question 21 or Question 22 on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or need a status information letter from Selective Service that clarifies whether or not they are exempt from the registration requirement. This can be done by calling our Registration Information Office on 1-888-655-1825. Individuals who have changed their gender to male will be asked to complete a request form for a status information letter and provide a copy of their birth certificate. One exemption letter may be used in multiple school financial aid processes.
*NOTE: If a man failed to register with Selective Service, Section 12(g) of the Military Selective Service Act allows non-registrants to receive benefits under specific conditions. As a veteran, or part-time National Guard or Reservist, the man satisfies those conditions with his DD Form 214 showing the dates of his military service, or a current military ID card if still on active duty or a member of the National Guard and Reserves. These documents serve as evidence that the man's failure to register was not knowing and willful. Therefore, men who served on full-time active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces should not be denied student financial aid, loans, or grants; vocational training under WIA; government employment; and security clearances, on the basis of their failure to register with Selective Service. As long as the man has proof of his active duty military service, such as his DD 214, or current military ID card if still on active duty or a member of the National Guard or Reserves, his subsequent failure to register should not be a bar to any benefits or programs, contingent upon registration compliance, for which he is otherwise qualified.