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Immigration Officer

Immigration officers are stationed at every point of entry into the United Kingdom to check and monitor people who are arriving and leaving. Officers check the landing cards that are required for non-British and non-European passengers, and establish the purpose of their visit and the length of stay.

When an officer decides to allow entry to the country they check and endorse passports and any documents relating to working in this country, and make sure that any other forms that may be required are completed.

If officers are not satisfied that passengers qualify for entry, they interview them for more information, arrange for them to be sent back to their point of departure if they are found to be illegal immigrants, or arrange for them to be sent to a holding area if they claim political asylum.

Their work also involves organising surveillance and carrying out intelligence-based activities. Officers may also have to carry out immigration visits to identify people who have no authority to remain in the UK.

Hours and Environment

As an immigration officer, you will work shifts including nights, weekends and public holidays. A minimum of 36 hours a week is usual.

Most of your work takes place indoors at ports and airports. You may be posted to overseas transport facilities that act as entry points to the UK, for example the Channel Tunnel rail terminals in France. 

Skills and Interests

To be an immigration officer you need:

  • a confident and reliable approach to work
  • the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
  • a responsible attitude to work
  • excellent organisational and communications skills
  • the ability to work well with people
  • excellent observational skills. 

Entry

Although there are no formal educational entry requirements for immigration officer posts, your employer will expect you to demonstrate an educational standard similar to A level/H grade.

When you apply for a position you complete a competency based application form and, if successful, you may be invited to attend an assessment centre. The assessment centre will examine your communication skills, judgement, conflict management skills, and your awareness of equal opportunities issues.

You must be a UK national with no restrictions on your stay in the UK, and you should normally have lived in the UK continuously for the last five years. The sensitive nature of the work means that security clearance is required for all posts. Your employer will also ask you to complete a health declaration and attend a medical examination.

Some ability in, or willingness to learn, a foreign language would be useful, but is not essential.

You may be able to start out in the service as an assistant immigration officer and gain promotion to immigration officer through promotion boards. For more details, check the Assistant Immigration Officer job profile.

The policy, operations and corporate services departments of the immigration service recruit for some positions through the Civil Service Fast Stream scheme; check Further Information for details.

For more details about careers in immigration, visit the Border & Immigration Agency and the Civil Service Recruitment Gateway websites in Further Information.

Training

As a new recruit, you undergo an initial period of training, lasting around 10 weeks, at Manchester, Heathrow or Gatwick Airports, or at the port of Dover.

Once in post, you need to develop a strong working knowledge of relevant legislation, case law and instructions. You can expect to receive on-the-job training and support. There is in-house training available plus some external vocational and language courses. The department will sponsor you for these.

Opportunities

There has been a large expansion programme within the immigration service and it is still growing. Immigration officers are based at over 50 airports and seaports around the UK and at the Channel Tunnel. As an officer, you must be prepared to serve anywhere in the UK.

As with most positions in the civil service, you will have clear promotion routes. Length of service and suitable annual assessments will play an important part in your progression.

Your progression options include promotion to chief immigration officer or moves into the general grades for promotion to higher executive officer.

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

National salary scales for immigration officers start at around £20,000 a year.
Experienced immigration officers can earn up to around £27,000.
The maximum rate for immigration officers is around £31,000 a year.

Salaries include a shift disturbance allowance of 16.5%. There is a London weighting for workers in that area. Premium payments for working weekends and bank holidays are also available.


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The information contained in our Career Profiles Database was correct at time of publishing, but since publication certain details may have changed so please use this section as a research tool and in some cases further research may be required.

Careers Database Information By Learn Direct Advice