Immigration Officer

    If you are wondering how to become an immigration officer, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of home security, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Immigration officers check and monitor people who are arriving and leaving the country. They work at every point of entry into the UK, such as Dover, Gatwick and Heathrow.

    As an immigration officer you would check the landing cards of non-British and non-European passengers, and find out why they are visiting and how long they intend to stay. When a passenger meets the criteria for entry to the country you would check and endorse their passport and any work-related documents.

    Typical responsibilities:

    interviewing the passenger for more information
    arranging for them to go back to their point of departure
    organising a place in a holding area (for example, when a person is claiming asylum)
    organising surveillance
    carrying out intelligence-based activities
    visiting and interviewing people who are suspected of having no right to remain in the UK.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good immigration officers include:

    a confident, responsible and methodical approach to work
    the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
    the ability to manage a complex workload
    good spoken and written communications skills
    the ability to work alone and in a team
    good powers of observation.

    How to become an immigration officer
    To become an immigration officer you may not need any formal academic qualifications. However, most employers will expect you to be educated to A level standard.

    You must be a UK national with no restrictions on your stay in the UK, and you need to have lived in the UK continuously for the last five years. The sensitive nature of the work means that you will need to pass security clearance. You need to be between age 18 and 63, and you may also need to pass a medical examination.

    When you apply for an immigration officer post you will usually be invited to an assessment centre, where you will be tested on your communication skills, judgement, conflict management skills and your awareness of equal opportunities issues. You may have an advantage when applying for this job if you have some ability in a foreign language, but this is not essential.

    You may be able to start in the service as an assistant immigration officer and work towards achieving promotion to immigration officer through internal application. For more details, check the Assistant Immigration Officer job profile.

    The immigration service recruit for some jobs through the Civil Service Fast Stream scheme. You can also find more information about careers in immigration on the websites of the Border & Immigration Agency, and Civil Service Recruitment Gateway.

    Training and Development
    As a new recruit, you would have an initial period of training, which takes around 10 weeks. This will take place in Manchester, Heathrow or Gatwick Airports, or at the port of Dover.

    Once you are working, you can expect to receive on-the-job training in areas such as interview techniques, relevant legislation, case law, policy and procedures. You may also have access to in-house training and the department will often support you during external work-related courses and language training.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Starting salaries can be around £20,000 a year.
    With experience this can rise to around £27,000.
    Senior officers can earn up to £31,000 a year.

    Job Prospects
    There has been a large expansion programme within the immigration service, and opportunities in this area continue to grow. You must be prepared to work at any of the 50 or so airports and seaports around the UK and at the Channel Tunnel.

    Most job opportunities are with the civil service, and there is a clear promotion route which is often based on your length of service and annual assessments. You could progress to chief immigration officer or move into the general grades for promotion to higher executive officer.

    Useful security or armed forces resources:
    Civil Service Fast Stream
    Pilgrims Well
    427 London Road
    GU15 3HZ

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