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Career Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

What is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) mission?

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) protects the United States from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety. To carry out that mission, ICE focuses on smart immigration enforcement, preventing terrorism and combating transnational criminal threats.

What should applicants know about ICE?

ICE is a law enforcement component of DHS. ICE was created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the former U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. ICE has more than 20,000 employees in 400 offices in the U.S. and 46 foreign countries. The agency has an annual budget of approximately $6 billion and three operational directorates: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA).

What is ERO?

The ERO directorate upholds U.S. immigration law at, within, and beyond our borders with more than 8,500 employees, including more than 6,100 deportation officers and more than 750 enforcement removal assistants who are assigned to 24 field offices in 50 states, four territories and more than 20 countries. ERO's work is critical to the enforcement of immigration law against those who present a danger to our national security, are a threat to public safety, or who otherwise undermine the integrity of our immigration system.

ERO operations target public safety threats, such as convicted criminal undocumented individuals and gang members, as well as individuals who have otherwise violated our nation's immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges. ERO deportation officers assigned to INTERPOL also assist in targeting and apprehending foreign fugitives or Fugitive Arrest and Removal (FAR) cases who are wanted for crimes committed abroad and who are now at-large in the U.S.

ERO manages all aspects of the immigration enforcement process, including identification and arrest, domestic transportation, detention, bond management, and supervised release, including alternatives to detention. In addition, ERO removes undocumented individuals ordered removed from the U.S. to more than 170 countries around the world.

What is HSI?

HSI is the principal investigative component of DHS with more than 8,500 employees, including more than 6,500 special agents and 700 intelligence analysts who are assigned to more than 200 cities throughout the U.S. and more than 60 offices in more than 45 countries. HSI's international presence represents DHS' largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad. HSI conducts transnational criminal investigations that protect the U.S. against threats to its national security and brings to justice those seeking to exploit U.S. customs and immigration laws worldwide.

HSI has broad legal authority to investigate all types of cross-border criminal activity. This includes investigations and intelligence efforts into a myriad of smuggling and cross-border criminal activity, to include: financial crimes, bulk cash smuggling, cybercrimes, exploitation of children and child sex tourism, weapons smuggling and export enforcement, trade crimes such as commercial fraud and intellectual property theft, human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics smuggling and trafficking, identity and benefit fraud, human rights violations, transnational gang activity, counterterrorism and visa security.

Through its investigative efforts, HSI works with foreign, federal, state and local law enforcement partners to protect the national security and public safety of the United States by disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations that engage in cross-border crime.

What is M&A?

The Management and Administration (M&A) directorate makes important contributions to the ICE mission by providing the vital infrastructure necessary for successful ICE operations. Management and Administration identifies and tracks the agency's performance measurements and leads a dynamic human capital program that includes aggressive recruitment endeavors and a commitment to equal employment opportunity. It coordinates ICE's administrative and managerial functions to address the needs of the ICE mission, while helping to guide the dynamic growth and future of the agency.

Management and Administration directs and maintains ICE's budget, expenditures, accounting and finance, procurement, facilities, property, and policy and privacy programs in full compliance with federal laws, regulations, and rules. Management and Administration provides a solid integrated information technology infrastructure to ensure the men and women of ICE have the tools they need to succeed. Management and Administration establishes acquisition strategies, provides oversight of procurement activities and contracts and executes sound and cost-effective financial management policies, standards and systems. In addition, Management and Administration ensures collaboration with internal stakeholders to increase diversity, guarantees timely responses to Freedom of Information Act requests and supports the agency's training needs.

What is the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor?

The Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) is the largest legal program in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with more than 1,300 attorneys and almost 300 support personnel across the country with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Pursuant to statute, OPLA serves as the exclusive representative of DHS in immigration removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, litigating all removal cases including those against criminal noncitizens, terrorists, and human rights abusers. OPLA also provides a full range of legal services to all ICE programs and offices, including legal advice and prudential counsel to ICE personnel on their customs, criminal, and immigration law enforcement authorities, the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, ethics, legal liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and a range of administrative law issues, such as contract, fiscal, and employment law. OPLA represents the agency before the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Board of Contract Appeals. OPLA attorneys provide essential support to the Department of Justice in the prosecution of ICE cases and in the defense of ICE's authorities and discretion in federal court.

What is the difference between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP)?

ICE and CBP are both components of the Department of Homeland Security; CBP enforces customs and immigration law at and near the border and ICE enforces customs and immigration laws at the border as well as in the interior of the United States. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade. ICE is responsible for protecting the United States from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety.

Working for ICE

Where may I find and apply for ICE jobs?

To see a complete listing of job opportunities at ICE please visit the federal government's official job website, USAJOBS.

ICE jobs are posted on federal job website, USAJOBS. If you are a member of the general public, the first step in applying for a position at ICE is to create a USAJOBS profile at USAJOBS, and regularly search for ICE jobs that are listed as "open to the public (all sources)." If you are a current or former federal employee, you may search for ICE jobs at USAJOBS that are listed as "merit promotion eligible candidates" or "eligible for federal employees" in addition to those that are open to all sources.

ICE is an equal opportunity employer and seeks to employ a diverse workforce that is both highly productive and effective and is always actively recruiting and hiring persons with disabilities. We offer a variety of exciting jobs, competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and opportunities for career advancement. Read more about Disability Employment

Where may I find help putting together a federal resume?

Visit the federal government's official job website, USAJOBS, look in the "Help" section and search for "Federal Resume Training" as there are documents and videos available to help with creating a federal resume.

What is the page limit of applicant resumes?

Effective April 15, 2022, ICE implemented a five-page resume limit. Although applicants will not be made ineligible if their resume exceeds the five-page limit, only the first five pages will be reviewed to determine whether they are qualified for the position.

See more FAQs about the Five-Page Resume limit

Is there a cost or fee to apply for a job at ICE?

No, there is not a cost or fee to apply for a job with ICE.

How do I know if I may apply to a job announcement?

All job announcements clearly define eligible candidates under the "Who May Apply" section. Generally, if an applicant is a United States citizen, he/she may apply for positions labeled "open to the public (all sources)." If an applicant is a member of the armed forces or a current or former federal employee, he/she may apply for positions labeled "merit promotion eligible candidate."

What are the job benefits ICE offers?

ICE offers competitive salaries and an attractive benefits package including health, dental, vision, life, long-term care insurance, retirement plan, Thrift Savings Plan (similar to a 401(k)), flexible spending account, Employee Assistance Program, personal and sick leave days and paid federal holidays. Other benefits may include flexible work schedules, telework, tuition reimbursement, transportation subsidies, health and wellness programs and access to fitness centers. ICE is committed to employee development and offers a variety of training and developmental opportunities.

Are there any opportunities to meet current ICE law enforcement professionals and ask questions about their careers? Is there a...

Are there any opportunities to meet current ICE law enforcement professionals and ask questions about their careers? Is there a one-day academy or workshop for potential applicants?

There are many opportunities to meet with ICE recruiters nationwide. You will be able to find these events on ICE's career page as well as follow information posted by ICE's Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

You may also find out about ICE careers and opportunities at

What Happens After I Apply for a Job With ICE?

What can I expect after I have applied for a job with ICE?

Once you submit your application, ICE will assess your experience and training, identify the best qualified applicants and refer those applications to the appropriate hiring managers for further consideration and interviews. We will notify you via email the outcome after each of these steps has been completed. In addition, your status will be updated on your USAJOBS account throughout the process.

Who may I contact with questions during the application process?

A point of contact is provided for each job announcement.

What happens after I get a tentative selection letter?

Following receipt of a tentative selection letter, you must complete pre-employment requirements. These requirements vary by position. All positions require security vetting and a drug test. Your potential position may also require a medical exam, fitness exam or additional testing. Security vetting takes an average of three months to complete, but the process can vary from two weeks to one year, depending on both your personal history and the level of security vetting required for the position.

Am I guaranteed a job if I receive a tentative selection letter?

No. A tentative selection letter remains tentative until all pre-employment requirements are met for the position. Once you have cleared these requirements, a firm job offer will be made.

If hired, will ICE pay moving expenses?

Paying for a potential employee to move is at the discretion of the hiring office, therefore each position listed on USAJOBS will indicate if moving expenses may be offered.

If hired, are employees allowed to choose their duty station or location?

There may be some flexibility in duty location. If so, it will be specified in the job listing on USAJOBS.

About Law Enforcement Officer Positions

What characteristics does ICE look for in a law enforcement officer applicant?

ICE is looking for individuals with integrity and courage. ICE is interested in hiring law enforcement personnel who aspire to the highest standards of performance, professionalism and leadership. Deportation officers and special agents must be in excellent physical condition, able to tolerate environmental stresses and have strong critical thinking skills. ICE employees should be committed to its mission to protect America from cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety.

If hired will I be reassigned without notice?

Mobility is a major factor in the special agent occupation. Applicants must be willing to accept employment at any location offered. Assignment at the first duty station will be at least three years for special agents; however, completion of the three years does not imply that a transfer is guaranteed. Additionally, special agents may be reassigned at any time in their career to new locations based on agency needs.

How dangerous is the work law enforcement officers will be doing?

ICE law enforcement officers should expect a certain level of risk when performing their duties; however, they are expertly trained and every precaution is taken by ICE when it comes to protecting its officers' well-being.

Is there an age limit or minimum to apply for a law enforcement officer position?

Yes. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age. The day immediately preceding an individual's 37th birthday will be the last day to be referred for selection consideration for criminal investigators. The day immediately preceding an individual's 40th birthday will be last day to be referred for selection consideration as a deportation officer. The age restriction may not apply if you are a preference-eligible veteran, currently serving or have previously served in a federal civilian law enforcement position covered by 5 U.S.C. & 8336(c) or 5 U.S.C. & 8412(d).

Are applicants for law enforcement positions required to pass a polygraph test during the application process or after they are hired?

Applicants may be required to successfully pass a polygraph examination.

Are applicants required to take a drug test during the application process or after they are hired?

Yes. Executive Order 12564 requires all federal employees to refrain from the use of illegal drugs on and off duty. All ICE applicants who are tentatively selected must satisfactorily complete a drug test as a mandatory condition of employment. ICE schedules and pays for these drug tests. All ICE employees are subject to the random drug testing program throughout their career.

Does ICE require fluency in Spanish to apply?

No, fluency in Spanish is not required to apply for a position; some candidates may undergo Spanish language training.

Does ICE require previous law enforcement officer experience to apply?

Not at the GS-5 level. Above the GS-5 level requires one year of specialized experience or appropriate education substitution. Please refer to each specific job announcement for qualification requirements.

How does overtime pay work at ICE?

Overtime pay for federal government employees is determined by special rules and regulations that are often particularly complex. Some federal employees, who are not entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), may be entitled to overtime pay under Title 5. Some forms of government pay, such as Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) and Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO), are available under Title 5 but not the FLSA.

Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) pay: AUO is a form of premium pay that is paid on an annual basis to an employee in a position in which the hours of duty cannot be controlled administratively and which requires substantial amounts of irregular, unscheduled overtime work, with the employee generally being responsible for recognizing, without supervision, circumstances which require the employee to remain on duty. AUO is compensation for all irregular overtime hours (i.e., overtime hours that are not regularly scheduled) which varies between 10 and 25 percent of an employee's basic rate of pay. "Regularly scheduled" overtime hours continue to be compensated with Federal Employees Pay Act (FEPA) overtime ("45 Act/Title 5 overtime").

Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP): LEAP is a type of premium pay that is paid to federal law enforcement officers (LEOs) who are criminal investigators. Due to the nature of their work, criminal investigators are required to work, or be available to work, substantial amounts of unscheduled duty. Availability pay applies to unscheduled duty hours as well as the first two hours of regularly scheduled overtime on any day containing part of the criminal investigator's basic 40-hour workweek. The rate is fixed at 25% of the employee's rate of basic pay, subject to aggregate premium pay limitations. Other hours of overtime continue to be paid under the provisions of Title 5/FEPA, but LEAP employees are exempt from the FLSA.

What are other sources of compensation for law enforcement officers?

Law enforcement officers are competitively rewarded for their time on the job. In addition to base pay, agents may be eligible for locality pay, overtime pay and more. They may also be eligible to earn premium pay for working on Sundays, holidays and night shifts.

What is the retirement age for ICE special agents and deportation officers?

New ICE law enforcement officers are covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and 5 U.S.C. § 8412(d). Employees covered by this retirement system who reach age 50 with at least 20 years of service as a law enforcement officer are eligible for law enforcement retirement. In addition, ICE law enforcement officers are eligible for law enforcement retirement at any age with at least 25 years of service as a law enforcement officer.

Finally, employees who reach age 57 with at least 20 years of service as law enforcement officers are subject to mandatory retirement under both retirement systems.

Additional information for preference-eligible veterans

ERO Law Enforcement Officer Positions

What are the daily activities of an ERO deportation officer (GS-1801)?

As a deportation officer with the Enforcement and Removal Operations directorate of ICE, your work is critical to enforcing immigration law against those who present a danger to national security and public safety, and who violate the integrity of our immigration system. You will use smart, efficient strategies and tactics to manage all aspects of the immigration enforcement process, including the identification and arrest, transportation, detention, case management and removal of undocumented individuals. ERO deportation officers also conduct legal research to support decisions on removal cases and assist attorneys in representing the government in court actions. Deportation officers work with other federal law enforcement officials to identify, locate and arrest undocumented individuals and are responsible for ensuring the physical removal of undocumented individuals from the United States.

What are the training requirements for newly hired ERO deportation officers?

As a new deportation officer you will be required to attend and successfully complete both, a five-week ERO Spanish Language Training Program (DSP) and the 16-week ERO Basic Immigration Law Enforcement Training Program (BIETP) at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) as well as successfully complete of the Physical Abilities Assessment (PAA) to continue your career as a deportation officer.

What are the training requirements for newly hired detention and deportation officers?

The DDO serves as a senior expert-level detention and deportation officer responsible for the leading, coordinating, or contributing to projects related to the planning and execution of assignments aimed at assessing and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of work methods and procedures used in immigration enforcement. You must have successfully completed Basic Immigration Law Enforcement Training in accordance with 8 CFR 287.1(g) and other applicable agency policies. This includes successful completion of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) Basic Immigration Enforcement Training Program (BIETP); ICE Enforcement & Removal Operations (ERO) Basic Immigration Law Enforcement Training Program (ICE_D); the legacy Immigration Officer Basic Training Course (IOBTC); the Border Patrol Academy; the combination of both the legacy Basic Immigration Detention Enforcement Officer Training Course and the ICE ERO Equivalency Training Program (ETP); the ICE Special Agent Training Program; the combination of FLETC Criminal Investigator Training Program and the ERO Equivalency Training Program for Special Agents (ETPSA) and for legacy U.S. Customs Special Agents, the ICE / Customs Special Agent Cross Training Program. Due to regulatory requirements, no other training will be accepted. (Note: Completion of training is subject to verification).

Note: If you have previously completed one of the basic immigration law enforcement training courses as listed above, but have had a significant break of three years or more from a position that initially required this training, you will be required to attend and successfully complete a new ICE basic law enforcement training course as a condition of your employment. Failure to successfully complete the training will result in your removal from this position.

Do ERO deportation officers work with other law enforcement agencies? How?

ERO deportation officers will have the opportunity to regularly work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service, as well as state police and county sheriff's departments. Deportation officers participate on fugitive operations teams that improve public safety and serve as part of anti-gang units and task forces in ICE's ongoing battle to identify and dismantle violent local gangs consisting of foreign nationals.

Is there any exam preparation required for ERO deportation officers?

No. Deportation officers are not required to take a pre-employment exam.

Is there a pre-employment physical fitness test for ERO?

Yes, successful completion of the physical fitness test ensures that all new-hire ERO law enforcement officers are at a minimally acceptable level of physical fitness to meet the physical demands of mandatory training and the performance of job duties.

What is the career progression for law enforcement officers in ERO?

Deportation officer positions have promotion potential to the GS-12 level. A career ladder promotion is contingent upon satisfactory performance and the satisfactory completion of all requirements and duties. Deportation officers have additional opportunities at the GS-13, GS-14, GS-15, and Senior Executive Service levels; however, promotions to these levels are addressed through a competitive hiring process.

HSI Law Enforcement Positions

What are the daily activities of an HSI special agent?

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Criminal Investigators, also referred to as special agents, use their legal authorities to investigate immigration and customs violations such as human rights violations; narcotics; weapons smuggling and the smuggling of other types of contraband; financial crimes; cybercrimes, human trafficking; child pornography; intellectual property violations, commercial fraud; export violations; and identity and benefits fraud. HSI special agents also conduct national security investigations aimed at protecting critical infrastructure vulnerable to sabotage, attack, or exploitation.

In addition to domestic HSI criminal investigations, HSI oversees ICE's international affairs operations and intelligence functions.

Do HSI special agents work with other law enforcement agencies? How?

HSI works closely with many state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to pursue investigations related to violent crimes, human smuggling and trafficking, gang and organized crime activity, child exploitation, narcotics smuggling, money laundering, and identity and benefit fraud.

In addition to information sharing and intelligence and frequently conducting joint investigations with other federal law enforcement agencies, HSI assists partner federal agencies in mitigating risks to critical infrastructure, key resources, armed forces personnel, and the general public. These agencies include, but are not limited to, Department of Justice law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. For example, the successful partnership with the FBI has resulted in HSI's participation in each of the 106 local Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) nationwide. Other federal partner agencies include the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Department of Defense, and the Social Security Administration.

What are the daily activities of an HSI technical enforcement officer and is the position the same as a special agent

Technical enforcement officers (TEOs) work with criminal investigators and other law enforcement officers on active criminal investigations and apply advanced investigative techniques to gather evidence and intelligence. They have an extensive working knowledge in the use, instruction, installation, maintenance, troubleshooting and integration of the full range of electronic surveillance devices like telephone, video, audio, tracking, radio frequency technologies and associated surveillance systems. TEOs provide expertise in the planning and execution of the electronic surveillance phase of major investigations and enforcement operations. They serve on high-risk special operations teams. TEOs make covert court-ordered entry onto the property of targets of criminal investigations to install equipment to collect evidence. They also serve as a technical authority and provide training and guidance to journey-level TEOs, HSI special agents and other law enforcement officers engaged in electronic surveillance and investigative work.

Although TEOs work closely with special agents, they do not perform the same duties and do not have the same legal authorities.

What are the training requirements for newly hired HSI special agents

New special agents attend the basic criminal investigator and special agent training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). The courses include the 12-week FLETC Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP) and the 15-week HSI Special Agent Training (HSISAT) follow-on basic. The HSISAT program provides extensive training in agency-specific criminal and immigration law, surveillance and undercover operations, firearms training, court case development and physical fitness.

What are the training requirements for newly hired technical enforcement officers?

TEOs are required to complete the 12 ½ week FLETC Uniformed Police Training Program (UPTP). TEOs are encouraged to take advanced technical training courses throughout their career to remain proficient and up-to-date on the use of current technologies and equipment.

What is the career progression for law enforcement officers in HSI?

HSI law enforcement positions have promotion potential to the GS-13 level. A career ladder promotion is contingent upon satisfactory performance and the satisfactory completion of all required training. Such promotions are not automatic.

Positions have additional opportunities at the GS-14, GS-15, and Senior Executive Service levels; however, promotions to these levels are addressed through a competitive hiring and assessment process.

About Other Positions at ICE

Is ICE hiring for other positions besides law enforcement?

Yes. ICE also hires intelligence officers, intelligence research assistants, intelligence research specialists, attorneys, mail and file clerks, legal assistants, management and program support specialists, auditors, financial specialist, contract management specialist, investigation assistants, enforcement removal assistants, information technology and cyber specialists and research specialists. Similarly, administrative, professional, and technical job applicants often have several steps in the application process. Make sure you review each vacancy announcement posting to understand what is required.

What are some examples of career paths at ICE for non-law enforcement personnel and what is the likelihood of advancement opportunities?

ICE has many career paths that are designed for career growth and advancement. These lines of progression are usually identified in the job announcement. Advancement opportunity within a position is included in the 'GS' level rating.

HSI Criminal Analyst Positions

What type of investigations do Criminal Analysts support?

Criminal Analyst support all types of criminal investigations that fall within HSI’s investigative programs: Contraband/Narcotics, Cyber Crimes, Financial Crimes, Human Smuggling/Trafficking, Identity & Benefit Fraud, IP Theft & Commercial Fraud, National Security, Transnational Gangs, Worksite Enforcement.

How critical are Criminal Analysts to criminal investigations?

Criminal Analysts play a vital role in the criminal investigative process. Investigations supported by Criminal Analysts have increased numbers of arrests and indictments and are completed in a shorter amount of time compared to investigations with no criminal analysis support.

Are HSI Criminal Analysts part of the Intelligence Community?

No. Although Criminal Analysts may collaborate with the Intelligence Community in some instances, Criminal Analysts focus on providing support to HSI criminal investigations.

What training is required for Criminal Analysts?

All CAs are required to attend and successfully complete introductory criminal analysis training conducted by HSI Intelligence.

What career and professional development opportunities are available?

HSI Intelligence offers a robust Career Path program which guides Criminal Analyst in developing in their careers. Additionally, there are numerous training opportunities within HSI, the Department of Homeland Security, other government agencies, as well as the private sector.

How often will I have to travel?

Each year there are many opportunities to travel to support surges and shifting agency priorities. This includes both domestic and international locations.

OPLA Attorney and Support Personnel

What are the daily activities of an OPLA attorney?

Our legal experts work in a dynamic and often highly visible environment, specializing in a variety of areas, such as administrative law, criminal law, customs law, government contracting, government ethics, immigration law, labor and employment law, and national security law. OPLA attorneys appear before federal courts and administrative tribunals, counsel clients, work with partner federal agencies, and engage in professional development opportunities.

What are the requirements to be an OPLA attorney?

Ideal candidates possess and can demonstrate advanced trial advocacy skills, subject-matter expertise, excellence in written advocacy, past academic success, interest in providing stellar client services, and can thrive in a fast-paced and diverse environment. OPLA attorneys must be U.S. citizens, graduates of an ABA-accredited law school, and active members in good standing of the bar of a state, territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Full details can be found in job announcements on USAJOBS.

What are the requirements to be OPLA Support Personnel?

OPLA’s support personnel perform a range of administrative and management services essential to the operation of the office. Duties vary in complexity based on the specific position and can range from basic office tasks such as sorting and delivering mail to more complex responsibilities like advising management on the effectiveness of office operations. OPLA support personnel must be U.S. citizens, pass a background investigation and a drug screening, and meet the established Office of Personnel Management qualification standards at the grade level identified. Support positions include Mission Support Specialists, Legal Assistants, and Mail and File Clerks; additional information about these positions can be found on the Careers page.

Do OPLA attorneys and staff work with other ICE offices?

OPLA stands alongside ICE’s other operational programs, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), with a shared mission to promote public safety, prevent terrorism, and combat the illegal movement of people and goods across our borders. OPLA is a trusted partner of HSI and ERO and provides prudential legal advice in support of their operational work.

What types of training is provided to OPLA employees?

All new OPLA attorneys attend a nationwide, week-long, mandatory training. In addition, individual field locations and HQ divisions provide mission-specific and foundational trainings that enable OPLA attorneys to do their jobs, enhance their professional development, and prepare for leadership opportunities. OPLA support staff also attends similarly focused training within their areas of responsibility. In addition, OPLA offers frequent training opportunities for all OPLA employees on various topics of interest and professional development, as well as specialized topical legal training and experienced attorney trainings.

What types of non-attorney opportunities are available in OPLA?

OPLA employs numerous professional staff in capacities varying from mail and file clerks, legal assistants, mission support specialists, and management and program analysts, all working to support the mission and OPLA attorneys in administrative, litigation support, budget, and human resources roles, among other areas.

OPR Inspections and Compliance Specialist Positions

What is OPR?

OPR is responsible for upholding the agency’s professional standards through a multi-disciplinary approach of security, inspections and investigations. OPR promotes organizational integrity by vigilantly managing ICE’s security programs, conducting independent reviews of ICE programs and operations, and impartially investigating allegations of serious employee and contractor misconduct, as well as internal and external threats against ICE personnel and facilities.

What is a typical work schedule like for Inspections and Compliance Specialists? Do they really travel 50% or more of the time?

ICSs in the IDO Division typically travel two to three weeks per month, usually Monday through Friday. Changes to inspection and travel schedules may occur.

Where do inspections take place?

Depending on the unit within the IDO Division, ICSs may conduct site visits in a detention or jail setting, which may entail interaction with (primarily interviewing of) detainees and intermittent standing and walking.

What is the typical workload for the Office of Detention Oversight (ODO)?

ODO ICSs travel in teams of six to eight staff to conduct onsite inspections. Beginning in fiscal year 2021, ODO will conduct approximately 260 inspections annually.

What is the typical workload for the External Reviews and Analysis Unit (ERAU)?

ERAU conducts, on average, 32 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) pre-audits and audits at ICE detention facilities annually. Both DDRs and PREA pre-audits/audits involve site visits; DDR site visits are scheduled as needed.

What exactly does a Detainee Death Review (DDR) entail?

DDRs conducted by ERAU are of significant interest to various external stakeholders and entail extremely detailed assessments of a deceased detainee’s immigration, detention, and medical records, as well as security and medical operations at the facility/facilities where the detainee was housed.

What is the typical workload of the 287(g) Inspections program?

ICSs in the 287(g) Inspections Section conduct a total of about 35 onsite inspections at participating state or local law enforcement offices each year.

What exactly does the Self-Inspection Program (SIP) team do?

ICSs on the SIP team work with large amounts of data compiled from numerous sources of information during the self-inspection process. The program normally facilitates three self-inspections per year.

What is the typical workload of the Field Inspections Section (FIS)?

ICSs in the Field Inspections Section have an opportunity for international travel, lasting up to two weeks per inspection. The team performs, on average, 50-60 domestic and international inspections each year.

Current Law Enforcement Officers

What documents are required for current border patrol agents who are applying for an ICE position?

The required documents for current border patrol agents applying for ICE positions are a resume and a SF-50 form that demonstrates eligibility for consideration, e.g., length of time you have been in your current/highest grade (examples of appropriate SF-50s include promotions, within-grade/range increases) and your current promotion potential.

Candidates Who Are Veterans

What documents are required for veterans?

To support a claim of veterans' preference or VEOA eligibility, veterans are required to submit a DD-214 form. The DD-214 (Member 4) form shows length and dates of service and type of discharge. The dates of active duty determine whether one is entitled to veterans' preference. If a veteran has a service-connected disability, is receiving compensation for a service connected disability or is entitled to derived preference (preference awarded based on relationship to a veteran, i.e. wife, widow, husband, widower, or parent) then he/she must submit a completed SF-15 along with the DD-214. For additional veterans' preference information, visit USAJOBS website and visit the "Help" section.

Is it possible to move into a law enforcement position in ICE if my service job was a support position?

Yes, if tentatively selected for a law enforcement position, and you meet all qualifications and successfully complete medical and physical requirements.

Are there age waivers for veterans who have recently separated from the military?

Age restrictions for ICE law enforcement positions do not apply if you are a preference-eligible veteran as defined in Title 5, U.S.C., section 2108, item (3).

How can a veteran translate his/her military duties into civilian terms for an ICE application?

Individuals should accurately explain experience that may relate to the position to which they are applying.

What types of opportunities are there for veterans at ICE?

ICE supports employing veterans in the agency workforce and actively recruits qualified veterans for all positions within the agency. ICE values the commitment, work ethic, and experience that veterans bring to the job, as well as their specialized skills and talents. Veterans currently compose one third of the ICE workforce.

Candidates Who Are Students

Are there any special hiring programs for students or recent graduates?

The Pathways Program is a special hiring authority used to offer paid federal internship and employment opportunities for current students, recent graduates and those with an advanced degree.

More information on the Pathways Program

The Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) has internship and externship opportunities for interested law students.

More information about internship and externship opportunities with OPLA

OPLA also participates in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Honors Attorney Program, as the largest participating component DHS legal component counsel office.

More information about OPLA opportunities through the DHS Honors Attorney Program

What is the Pathways Program?

The Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates Executive Order 13562 established the Internship Program and Recent Graduates Program, which, along with the Presidential Management Fellows Program, are collectively known as the Pathways Program.

Can recent graduates with no practical law enforcement experience apply for positions?

Yes. Recent graduates who, within the past two years, have completed a qualifying associate, bachelors, masters, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degree or certificate can apply.

Veterans who, due to military service obligations, are unable to apply within two years of receiving their degree have six years after degree completion to apply.

Is an undergraduate or bachelor's degree required for all ICE career paths?

No. Please read each job listing carefully on USAJOBS for specific requirements.

Does ICE offer any student loan repayment as an employee benefit?

Yes, in certain instances, ICE does offer student loan repayment as a recruitment incentive. Also, in some instances, ICE may provide current employees with Tuition Assistance as an employee benefit.

Personnel Vetting

How long does it take to make a preliminary suitability determination, so I can start working for ICE?

The initial assessment of suitability (preliminary suitability or entry on duty determination) involves various factors that affect the overall timeline. A significant portion of this timeline relies on the prompt scheduling of your appointment for electronic fingerprinting and the accurate completion of security forms.

Why is my entry on duty determination from ICE PSD delayed?

The most common reasons for delay are incomplete or the submission of all required security forms.  Moreover, if you are aware of any derogatory information about yourself, such as financial delinquencies or an arrest record, it's important to disclose this information on the security forms. You have the option to supplement the forms with supporting documentation. For instance, if you are currently undergoing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy proceedings, you can clarify the reasons for filing on the forms and provide documentation, such as your initial filing along with a recent trustee statement. 

I work for another federal agency and have a Top Secret clearance. Will ICE accept this?

If the position that you applied for at ICE requires you to have eligibility to access classified national security information at the Top Secret or Secret level, ICE will accept the security clearance.  As all suitability determinations assess the position the person is occupying, ICE will review your previous background investigation to ensure there is no conduct incompatible with the core duties of the position at ICE. 

What types of checks are involved in a background investigation?

There are different levels of background investigations that vary based on the position.  Most background investigations typically include criminal history, credit history, civil records, employment records, education verification, and personal references which collectively explore various aspects of your life.

What happens if discrepancies are found in my background investigation?

If discrepancies are found in your background investigation, you will be contacted by ICE PSD with an opportunity to address those discrepancies.

Why is the background investigator inquiring about things that happened five years ago?

The investigator might ask about events from as far back as 10 years ago or even longer, depending on the topic being discussed. For instance, if they need details about a former spouse from 15 years ago, they'll likely only gather basic information and move forward. However, if they're looking into something that might show a pattern of behavior, like multiple arrests, they may need more information. It's crucial to be honest and helpful with the investigator.  If you have any concerns regarding your contacts with an ICE-contracted background investigator, email the investigator’s name, credential number (CBI#####), and a summary of the contact you have concerns about to

What are the consequences if I fail to disclose information or provide inaccurate information to the background investigator?

The background investigation and all associated forms and interviews are collected to assist with evaluating your good character and conduct, trustworthiness, and integrity. If you knowingly provide false information during this process, it could result in you being found unsuitable/unfit for the position, denial of your eligibility to occupy a sensitive national security position, or denial of your eligibility to access classified national security information. Additionally, under Title 18 of the United States Code Section 1001, knowingly falsifying or concealing material facts is a felony-level offense, in which you may face up to $10,000 in fines and/or 5 years imprisonment.

How is a security clearance related to suitability?

Although both are part of personnel vetting, they are separate and distinct concepts. A suitability determination determines if you are trusted to work for ICE in the position sought (e.g. Criminal Investigator). A security clearance determines if you are trusted and willing to safeguard classified national security information and/or other sensitive government information.


What can I expect after being referred for polygraph testing and how do I prepare for the examination?

  • You will receive written instructions from your assigned polygraph examiner to set a testing date.  The examiner will follow up with comprehensive reporting instructions that you must confirm, as well as other information concerning dress, identification, medications, etc.
  • Try to get plenty of rest the night prior to your examination.
  • Do not bring weapons or recording devices of any kind to the examination.
  • The polygraph examiner will verify your identity and together you will complete a form indicating you voluntarily consent to undergo polygraph testing.
  • The examiner will explain the examination process, and the two of you will discuss all questions you will be asked during testing prior to taking the examination.  You will have ample opportunity to ask questions or clarify your answers prior to the examination.
  • Physiological data is collected by attaching various components to your body while the previously reviewed questions are asked.  The polygraph examiner will explain and demonstrate the components during discussion prior to data collection.
  • The most important thing for you to remember is to follow instructions and be forthcoming when asked to provide information.

What if I am nervous?

It is normal for everyone undergoing testing to be nervous to some degree and the examiner expects that. Each applicant is different, and the examiner will adjust for that. Being nervous won’t make you fail the examination, so don’t feel that you must try and calm yourself in any way.

What types of questions are asked during the polygraph?

You will be administered a standardized polygraph examination that will include pre-employment screening questions regarding your suitability for employment with ICE and national security issues. All questions will be thoroughly reviewed and explained, and you will have an opportunity to discuss concerns or issues you may have with any of the topics.

What if I don’t pass the examination?

Following data collection, the examiner will provide you with the result of the test. If you are unsuccessful your examiner will give you the opportunity to discuss your result and why you weren’t successful. Remember, the polygraph examination isn’t looking for perfect people who have never made a mistake; rather, we are looking for people with honesty and integrity, who are suitable for a law enforcement position.

Does the polygraph examiner have the final say regarding test results?

No. Every ICE pre-employment screening examination is subject to Quality Control review conducted by a senior polygraph examiner. Although each ICE polygraph examiner is federally certified, a Quality Control process is followed to ensure adherence to strict federal guidelines and standards.

If I have questions before my polygraph, who can I contact?

You should direct questions to your assigned polygraph examiner identified in your reporting instructions.

Will the polygraph examination be recorded?

Yes, every ICE polygraph is audio and video recorded in its entirety.

How long does the polygraph examination take?

On average an ICE polygraph examination takes four to five hours. There will be short breaks provided throughout testing and your examiner will be there to guide you through the entire process from start to finish.

Helpful Hints

  • Clarifying or revealing new information during your polygraph won’t make you fail—but being deceptive or withholding information will
  • The polygraph examination is not designed to determine if you are perfect. The purpose is to help determine if you are willing to be forthcoming and demonstrate that you have the integrity required to be a federal law enforcement officer
  • Answer truthfully during the exam and cooperate with your examiner