Job descriptions and industry overviews

Immigration officer: job description

5 Jul 2023, 14:54

Immigration officers check whether people arriving in the UK are eligible to enter the country.

immigration officer

What does an immigration officer do? Salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Skills

Immigration officers (or immigration enforcement officers) use their knowledge of the law to check whether people arriving in the UK are allowed to enter. They also decide whether visitors are entitled to stay.

Typical duties include:

  • observing passengers passing through passport control areas.
  • examining passports, visas and other travel documents.
  • conducting interviews.
  • working in collaboration with border force officers.
  • working on surveillance operations with the police.
  • organising for people to move to a holding centre or to another country if they're not entitled to be in the UK.
  • collecting data.
  • working with interpreters and translators.
  • creating and sharing reports.

Many immigration officers work at ports, airports and the Channel Tunnel (although some immigration staff are office-based and some work overseas), so you’ll need to be able to travel to a suitable location. You’re likely to work shifts involving some unsociable hours because of the operating hours of ports.

The work of immigration officers is different from that of immigration advisers, who help people organise the documents they need to stay in the UK and don’t make decisions about who can enter the country.

Graduate salaries

Based on individual job listings we’ve looked at, starting salaries for immigration officers are typically around £21,500 to £23,000 a year. Civil service salaries are set by individual departments so they’re not open to negotiation by individuals. However, there are opportunities to progress and build skills (and earnings) through secondments and internal moves, as the Civil Service is such a large employer.

Typical employers of immigration officers

Immigration officers are employed by UK Visas and Immigration within the Civil Service.

Vacancies are advertised on the Civil Service website.

Qualifications and training required

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, although having qualifications in languages or legal studies can be useful. Experience in a customer-facing role can also be helpful.

To work for the Civil Service, you'll need to be a British national or have dual nationality with one part being British. Immigration officers also need to pass security clearance and medical checks.

Once you’re employed, you’ll receive on the job training. Immigration officers have some significant powers – such as the power to search people and to arrest in some situations – so it’s important to learn about the role from experienced colleagues.

Key skills for immigration officers

  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to communicate with people from all sections of the community.
  • Attention to detail.
  • The ability to remain calm in difficult situations.
  • Customer service skills.
  • The ability to keep accurate, detailed records.
  • The ability to work in a team.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

People reading this also searched for roles in these areas:

Related careers advice

undefined background image

We've got you

Get the latest jobs, internships, careers advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you. Start connecting directly with top employers today.