Immigration officer: job description
Immigration officers are involved in ensuring the UK immigration laws are adhered to. They check the passports and visas of people entering the UK and establish whether the visitor meets the criteria for entry or should be refused.
Typical responsibilities of the job include:
- observing passengers passing through passport control areas
- examining passports
- conducting interviews
- taking fingerprints
- carrying out surveillance
- organising the removal of passengers who fail to qualify for entry
- collecting statistics
- writing reports
Since the job is linked to borders and ports, you may need to relocate in order to be able to reach your jurisdiction effectively. You may also be required to work nights and some weekends. Working hours are usually flexible.
Immigration Officers are employed by UK Visas and Immigration (formerly the UK Border Agency), within the Civil Service, and are based at UK ports, airports and the Channel Tunnel.
Vacancies can be found directly on the Civil Service website as well as in newspapers and with careers services.
There are routes into becoming an immigration officer for both graduates and school leavers.
There are no set qualification requirements for becoming an immigration officer, so graduates can have a degree in any subject. However, qualifications in languages or legal studies can prove advantageous. You will also need good A Level and GCSE results. All candidates should be British nationals. It is also necessary to pass security clearance and medical checks and to have been resident in the UK continuously for the previous three years. New recruits receive an initial period of training that takes at least nine weeks.
For more information about public sector careers that you can get into via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the public sector section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
Immigration officers need to be assertive and have confidence in their own judgement while being fair and impartial. They need to be quick-thinking and observant to stop potential illegal immigrants. They have excellent communication and interpersonal skills as they regularly deal with international visitors with limited English language ability. They can be firm yet polite with people who may be frightened or aggressive. They are able to work independently as well as part of a team.