Immigration officers work for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a part of the U.S. Federal Government. Immigration officers are charged with maintaining and enhancing the security of the United States of America. They fulfill their charge by overseeing the operations of the immigration system.
What Does an Immigration Officer Do?
One of the functions of an immigration officer is to serve as a liaison between the USCIS and other law enforcement agencies, both national and foreign. In this capacity, immigration officers may become involved in national security issues and issues of public safety. They ensure that immigration laws are enforced, detect and apprehend illegal aliens, and investigate immigration benefit fraud.
Immigration officers must be intelligent, thoughtful, exercise sound judgment, and be capable of researching and analyzing information from various sources. They must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills because they often deal with people from a vast array of backgrounds and locales.
Education and Other Requirements
Potential immigration officers must meet the required standards of the USCIS: Applicants must be citizens of the United States, having resided in the United States for three of the last five years. Applicants must be under the age of 40 and have a valid driver’s license. Applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. USCIS gives preference to candidates with degrees in homeland security, criminal justice, or international studies. Applicants with language skills, especially those who can speak Spanish fluently, also receive preference.
Moreover, applicants are required to take and pass a physical fitness test, written examination, and extensive background check. If accepted, applicants attend the USCIS Academy, where they undergo an intensive course of academic and physical training. While at the academy, trainees are considered employees and are paid. Upon graduation, they become full-fledged immigration officers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job opportunities and career advancement for immigration officers in the United States is excellent as far out as 2018. The BLS indicates that USCIS’s need for detectives and criminal investigators will grow by 17 percent over the next six years. This is an exemplary growth rate, one that exceeds most occupations.
The average salary of detectives and criminal investigators in the USCIS was $73,170. The USCIS asserts that qualified immigration officers—those who can speak second and third languages—along with those who demonstrate superior judgment and are capable of communicating clearly will have great potential for advancement to the specialized and higher-paying positions.