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FAQ / LIGHTHOUSE ARTICLES:

(#76-04/01/98)

Naturalization and Selective Service


US Immigration Question:

I am 26 years old and have had a green card since I was 10. I have been living in the United States since that time. I am planning to get married to a Japanese citizen. I want to sponsor her for a green card. I heard that if will take a long time for my wife to get her green card since I only have a green card. Therefore, I want to apply for citizenship. A friend of mine told me that since I did not register for the US Selective Service I probably will not be able to become a US citizen. It that true?


Answer:

Your friend might be correct.

An applicant for naturalization must establish good moral character during all of the required periods of residence. Thus an applicant must ordinarily establish good moral character for the period spanning from 5 years preceding the filing of the application until the application is granted. The INS will evaluate claims of good moral character on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the elements enumerated in the law and the standards of the average citizen in the community.

The Military Selective Service Act requires not only male US citizens, but also other male persons residing in the United States between 18 and 26 years of age, to register for the selective service. This requirement includes legal permanent residents. Aliens who are in valid nonimmigrant status (for example, F or M students, H, L, and E workers) are not required to register.

If you are a male between the ages of 18 and 31 you will be required to bring proof to your INS naturalization interview that you registered for the Selective Service System (SSS) between the ages of 18 and up to your 26th birthday. SSS will send you proof if you call them at (847) 688- 2576. While you are on the phone they will ask you for your name, date of birth, address, and social security number.

If you were notified by the SSS to register and you failed to register the INS usually takes the position that you lack good moral character required for naturalization. If, however, you were not aware of the requirement and the SSS records do not show that a notice was sent to you, you might be able to still naturalize. If you are in this situation you should call the SSS at the above telephone number and ask the assistant to check the records and send you a letter indicating that you either were or were not notified. Unfortunately some males who failed to register must wait until after they are 31 years old to start the application process for naturalization.

Advice: File a green card petition for your wife upon your marriage. If you become a US citizen that petition will go to the front of the line.

 

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