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I came to the US on 4th of August, 2013 from India on F1 visa as a Master's student. I was 1 day shy of being 24 and eligible for a late registration for Selective Service. But I had no idea that was even a thing back then.

Things happened and I was out of status for a while and my education was incomplete. On February 16th, 2017, I got my green card through marriage. I was 27 years and 6 months then, and not eligible for late registration for Selective Service.

Now, I have gotten admitted back to the college I was originally attending and applied for FAFSA. Today, I am 29 years old today and am ineligible for Selective Service.

My situation:

  1. I have been approved for FAFSA by the federal government.
  2. My college has a pending requirement with regards to my FAFSA: Verify Selective Service registration.

My question:

When I originally came to the US, I was eligible (and required, if I were to seek federal financial assistance) to register for Selective Service. I did not. Now my college requires proof that I've registered for selective service. So I tried registering, but the Selective Service registration website does not let me go past the first screen because my age indicates that I am ineligible for Selective Service.

  1. Could I somehow apply for Selective Service?
  2. Could I email my university and explain to them that I did not know of Selective Service to know I would need it in the future?
  3. Should I just give up trying for FAFSA?

Thank you.

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For the following, I will assume that you were on a F1 visa from arriving in the US until after your 26th birthday. In that case, you should have been exempt from selective service. If you had any kind of change in immigration status from a non-immigrant visa (such as having the F1 visa expire) during this time, well, that could complicate things and you really should talk to your university about it.

The Selective Service System's page for Men - 26 and older suggests that you can get a status information letter to prove that you're exempt. You could ask your university's financial aid office if it's required in your case or not.

Reading more on the Status Information Letter page, I found the following (which suggests it isn't required):

Financial aid officers: If the man falls within one of the following categories, a status information letter from Selective Service is NOT required if he can provide a copy of supporting documentation proving his case to your satisfaction. <...>

Non-U.S. male on a valid non-immigrant visa

For example, if the man entered the United States as an F-1 student visa and remained in that status until his 26th birthday, he would need to provide documentation indicating that he was admitted on an F-1 visa and attended school full-time as required.

  • Why would I be exempt from Selective Service if I were on F1 visa and younger than 26? It says in the SSS.gov website, it says that "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." – Crazy Cucumber Oct 14 '18 at 15:29
  • Wouldn't F1 fall under the "all males with visas of any kind" criteria? – Crazy Cucumber Oct 14 '18 at 15:52
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    @CrazyCucumber Well, I assume your visa didn't expire during that time frame? Note that the paragraph also continues saying "The few individuals who are exempt from this requirement are those on current non-immigrant visas.", which you would have been during that time frame (ages 18-25). – Anyon Oct 14 '18 at 15:56
  • @Anyon: OP does say that he was "out of status for a while". – Nate Eldredge Oct 14 '18 at 16:47
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    @Anyon I was on my F1 visa starting August 23rd 2013 all the way till January 12th 2015. I fell out of status when I was 25 years and 5 months old! Thank you for that. I've emailed my financial aid office with that information. – Crazy Cucumber Oct 14 '18 at 17:25
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I would start with the University. Likely they have an office of financial aid that knows all of the rules and regulations. They will probably be able to let you know if you still have an obligation to register for Selective Service and how to go about it. They might even be able to intercede on your behalf if needed, but that would probably depend on the size of the university and how many students have similar problems.

Failing that, you could try to deal with Selective Service, but I expect it would be harder to get advice from a large bureaucracy than from the university.

  • It is a big university with 25-30K students and a lot of international students. They should have answers for me. I will contact them, thank you! – Crazy Cucumber Oct 14 '18 at 15:53
  • It's a choice between large bureaucracy A and large bureaucracy B. I don't envy the OP. – Azor Ahai Oct 14 '18 at 19:38

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