An immigration officer is a government employee who enforces laws relating to immigration, borders, and customs. As specialized law enforcement agents, immigration officers are required to have both basic police skills and specific knowledge of international trade and immigration issues. These steps will teach you how to become an agent with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
1. Become a United States citizen and reside in the United States for at least three of the five years before applying to ICE.
2. Obtain a valid driver’s license and maintain a clean driving record.
3. Maintain a clean criminal record.
- A criminal record does not absolutely preclude a candidate from admission to ICE training, although any misdemeanor or felony charges in relation to firearms or domestic violence will automatically disqualify a candidate.
5. Apply to ICE as either a special agent, a deportation officer, or a detention and deportation officer, depending on your interests.
- Special agents are involved with a wide variety of law enforcement issues, including criminal and terrorist investigations, and generally work in the field. Deportation officers tend to focus on immigration issues and violations of immigration law, and often conduct research in an office. Detention and deportation officers focus on removal operations.
7. Sit for the oral examination, personal interview, and second written test designed to assess your suitability for law enforcement work, including communication skills, reporting ability and attention to detail.
8. Pass physical tests involving fitness, sight and hearing.
9. Attend ICE training for 9-20 weeks in Glynco, Georgia.
- ICE training is an intensive academy where basic law enforcement skills and immigration-specific knowledge are taught. You will learn, among other things, how to use a firearm, how to conduct searches, and the legal aspects of various immigration issues.
- Supplementary education will prepare you for your specific position and areas of interest. Additional training might include law enforcement and firearm skills, legal education, or even language instruction.
12. Maintain firearm proficiency and be prepared to be moved from one post to another, especially during the first few years of your career.
- A bachelor’s degree is not required for admission to ICE training, but the benefits of a college education, including communication skills and language or criminal justice knowledge, will be looked upon favorably during the hiring process.
- Job openings for deportation and detention and deportation officers are often posted online at USA.gov, with details about the application and training process. ICE special agent positions, however, are not advertised. Consult with an ICE recruiter for more information.
- Successful completion of ICE training guarantees you employment as an immigration officer, although you may have to wait some time until a post becomes available. Unlike other professions, it is generally impossible to choose where you will be working as an ICE agent, as employees are sent to posts according to the department’s needs and not the agents’ preferences.
Things You’ll Need
- Clean criminal record and background
- Physical fitness
- Graduation from the ICE training program