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Immigration Officer

The Job and What's Involved

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.

If you decided a person did not qualify to enter the country, your duties could include:

  • 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).

You might also be involved with:

  • Organising surveillance.
  • Carrying out intelligence-based activities.
  • Visiting and interviewing people who are suspected of having no right to remain in the UK.

You would work between 36 and 40 hours a week as a full-time immigration officer. This would involve shifts including nights, weekends and bank holidays.

Your work would mainly take place indoors at ports and airports in the UK. You could also be based at overseas transport facilities that act as entry points to the UK, for example the Channel Tunnel rail terminals in France.

Starting salaries for immigration officers can be around £21,500 to £22,000 a year. With experience this can rise to around £27,000. Senior officers can earn up to £31,000 a year.

Additional payments may also be made to those in London, and for working shifts, weekends and bank holidays.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There has been a large expansion programme within the immigration service, and opportunities in this area are expected to 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.

You may not need any formal academic qualifications. However, you are likely to be in competition with candidates educated to degree or A level standard.

To apply for an immigration officer post, you need to:

  • Be a UK national with no restrictions on your stay in the UK
    have lived in the UK continuously for the last five years.
  • Pass security clearance (due to the sensitive nature of the work).
  • Be aged between 18 and 63.
  • Pass a medical examination.

You may have an advantage when applying if you also have some ability in a foreign language, but this is not essential.

Education and Training

You will usually be invited to an assessment centre where you will be tested on your communication skills, judgement, conflict management skills and awareness of equal opportunities issues.

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.

The immigration service recruits for some jobs through the Civil Service Fast Stream scheme. You can find more information about careers in immigration on the UK Border Agency website and Civil Service website.

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.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Once you are in post, you can expect to receive on-the-job training on issues such as interview techniques, relevant immigration legislation, case law, policy and procedures.

You may also have access to in-house training and your employer may support you during external work-related courses and language training.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An immigration officer needs:

  • 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 communication skills.
  • The ability to work alone and in a team.
  • Good powers of observation.

Your Long Term Prospects

Most jobs are with the civil service, and there is a clear promotion route which is often based on your length of service and annual assessments.

With experience, you could progress to chief immigration officer or move into the general grades for promotion to higher executive officer.

Get Further Information

UK Border Agency

Civil Service Jobs Online
No central telephone number for information,
see website for contacts for individual departments.

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