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What does an Immigration Officer do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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An immigration officer controls the movement of non-citizens in and out of his country. He traditionally dispenses advice to immigrants on the rules and guidelines for legal admittance and residence in the country. An immigration officer commonly works for a regional government agency and is usually considered a civil servant.

The most common information an immigration officer provides relates to long and short-term visits, temporary and permanent jobs and permanent citizenship requirements. He also typically dispenses facts on the most common reasons for detention or deportation of immigrants. If deportation proceedings go to trial, he is frequently asked to testify on behalf of the immigration department or bureau. Conversely, if an immigrant files an appeal on being denied admittance to a country, the officer may be required to testify on behalf of the immigrant.

When a non-citizen enters a country, the immigration officer is often the person’s first point of contact. He traditionally asks them a predetermined set of questions before authorizing their entrance into the country. These questions normally relate to whether the visit is for business or pleasure, if the person has a new job in the country and if they are planning to stay for a period longer than a traditional vacation.

If a visitor’s answers to these questions are satisfactory, a visa is normally issued by the immigration officer. This visa commonly stipulates how long a person is authorized to be in the country and if they are legally sanctioned to work for a salary during their stay. If anomalies are noted in the person’s identification papers or their intentions for the visit are unclear, the immigration officer may detain them for further investigation before granting them entrance. In the event the improprieties of the visitor are serious or may pose a threat to national security, the person may be refused admittance and sent back to his or her country of origin.

People already residing in a country who are believed to be breaking immigration laws are normally interrogated by immigration officers. If the investigation finds them guilty, the officer is frequently responsible for contacting officials in the offender’s native country to arrange for the person’s return. He is often required to confirm travel arrangements for the deportment and oversee the transition.

Good communication skills are normally required to be proficient in this position. A respectful attitude in dealing with people from diverse ethnic backgrounds is commonly required for the job of immigration officer. Attention to detail is generally considered helpful in reviewing immigration documents.

A high school diploma or equivalent is normally required to apply for this job. A bachelor’s degree is considered an asset that may give an immigration officer candidate an advantage over those with less education. Experience working for a regulatory or law enforcement agency is frequently seen as a plus for applicants for this position as well.

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Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Feb 10, 2014

Now, here is a thankless job. A lot of people like griping about illegal immigration, but how many will support better training for immigration officers and hiring more of them? These are the guys on the front line and, as such, are the ones that immigration reformers should support.

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