New Proposal Would Require Women Seeking Citizenship to Register for Selective Service

Women may be required to register for the draft, and those who apply for U.S. citizenship will then have to prove that they complied.

By , J.D.


An important part of proving one's loyalty to the United States in the course of applying for naturalized U.S. citizenship is demonstrating that if you were required to, you would register for the U.S. Selective Service. This means putting your name on the list of people who could be called up for military service in the event of a war where an actual draft is instituted. (A military draft hasn't been instituted in decades, but that's no guarantee it won't at some point.)

In the past, the only people required to register for Selective Service were young men between the ages of 18 and 26, regardless of their immigration status. That's right, even undocumented immigrants and green card holders are expected to register.

But a proposal being considered by Congress, which was based on an interim report by the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, may change the rules.

One important issue on the table is whether to add women to the Selective Service requirement, as a matter of equality. If that happens, a whole new group of immigrants will have to make sure they've registered before attempting to apply for naturalized citizenship.

What's more, there might be a whole new group of people who eventually miss the deadline and have to prove they didn't know they were supposed to apply. Even the Commission's report acknowledged that the Selective Service system is a mystery to most Americans.

Then again, another proposal on the table would scrap the Selective Service system entirely. Either way, naturalization applicants should keep an eye out for news on this issue!

Effective Date: January 23, 2019