How to Become a Citizenship and Immigration Officer

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Getting into This Field: Career Path Guide

Do you have a desire to protect your country’s interests and help keep it secure while building a meaningful and rewarding career? Do you have good interpersonal skills and enjoy working with people? Do you have interest in a career field that can involve either desk work or fieldwork, or even a combination of both?


 

If so, pursuing a future as a citizenship and immigration officer may be the perfect career path for you! If we’ve piqued your interest, let’s figure out how you can break into this field!


 

You’ll need to know what type of education and skills you will need, and you’ll probably want an idea of what you’ll actually be doing, where you could be working, and what you could earn. All of the information you'll need is provided below.

 


 

Prerequisites for This Career

Our first step is to figure out how you can qualify for a job as a citizenship and immigration officer. Before we get into what kind of education and training you’ll need, among other qualifications, let’s start with the basics:


 

Citizenship or Permanent Residency: You must be a citizen or have permanent residence or national status within the host country.


 

Clean Records: You must have a clean driving record and maintain an up-to-date driver's license. You must also have a clean criminal record, similar to if you were applying for a position as a police officer.


 

Physical Fitness: Because the position of citizenship and immigration officer may require you to be active, part of the entrance requirements for this job may be passing a physical fitness test.

 

 

 

Required Education

Fields that help prepare you for interviewing people, investigating illegal activity, preparing official reports, public service, and community relations, can all help you gain the knowledge and competencies necessary for being an officer of immigration law.


 

Because of this, having a degree or diploma in a field related to criminal justice or criminology can be a great asset when applying to become a citizenship and immigration officer. In fact, it is likely to be listed as a formal requirement on most, if not all, citizenship and immigration officer job postings.

 

 

 

 

Characteristics of Successful Citizenship and Immigration Officers

The next step is to determine if your personality traits will be compatible with this career. Having the right personality for the job is not only something employers will look for, it is something that will ensure that you are happy in your work. There are a variety of characteristics, which apply to you?


 

• Good interpersonal skills, and enjoy working with people

• Good communication skills including interviewing, public speaking and writing skills

• Enjoy analyzing information, and conducting investigations

• Common sense and good judgment

• Honesty and objectivity, as well as fairness

• Co-operative, flexible and patient

• Attentive to details

• Enjoy having clear guidelines for your work

 


 

Who Creates Jobs for Them?

The federal government employs citizenship and immigration officers. In Canada, the branch of government that employs them is Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). In the United States, it’s the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

 


 

Additional Training You'll Need

Once you’ve been hired as a citizenship and immigration officer, you must complete a rigorous in-house training program that can last several months. This training and supplemental education may include firearms training, legal education or language training.


 

After the initial training period, further training in operational and organizational skills is provided on an ongoing basis.

 

 


 

Career Advancement in This Field

As a citizenship and immigration officer, your opportunities for advancement would mainly come in the form of moving into a supervisory or management position, or relocating to other locations.


 

Promotion within this field is very competitive. So to be promoted, you will have to display a high degree of competence, initiative, and an excellent employment record. Having current knowledge of relevant laws and regulations won’t hurt either.

 

 

 


 

 

Details of This Career:  General Job Description

As a citizenship and immigration officer, you would be responsible for determining the eligibility of individuals from foreign countries to reside or travel in a host country. For example, if you were a Canadian citizenship and immigration officer, you would be responsible for screening visitors into Canada.


 

In order to determine a potential immigrant or visitor’s eligibility, you would examine applications for immigration, citizenship and visas, and conduct interviews with the applicants. You would be ultimately trying to determine their suitability (including whether they currently have any outstanding criminal charges) for entering the country on a temporary basis, or staying in the country on a permanent basis.

 


 

Types of Citizenship and Immigration Officers

The term “Citizenship and Immigration Officer” is one that is fairly broad; there are many different types of officers that this term describes, as there are many different areas of specialty within this occupation.


 

Depending on what country you will be working in (as types of specialties will vary by country), and what kind of work environment you are looking for, you may choose to specialize in one of the following areas:


 

Deportation Officers: Focus on violations of immigration law. This job mainly consists of conducting research in an office setting.


 

Detention Officer: Working closely with deportation officers, you would be the officer in the field, instead of conducting the research.


 

Special Agents: Involves communicating with other federal agencies to conduct criminal or terrorist investigations involved with illegal investigation. In this role, you would split time between the office and the field.


 

Immigration Enforcement Officers: Are responsible for conducting the basic immigration enforcement procedures involved in ensuring that all immigration is legal.

 


 

Citizenship and Immigration Officer Job Duties

The duties you would be responsible for performing as a citizenship and immigration officer could vary depending on the amount of responsibility you are given, your field of specialty (such as Refugee Admission or Border Services), and many other factors. However, you should expect your role to include a few general duties, regardless of these factors:


 

• Review permanent residence, study or work permits, and visitor extension applications

• Detect potential security threats and fraud attempts by interviewing those trying to enter the country

• Approve or reject permanent residence, study or work permits, and visitor extension applications

• Provide counsel and advice to individuals who wish to remain in the host country

• Interpret relevant laws and explain decisions to people seeking admission or entry to the host country

• Detain those who are trying to enter the country illegally

• Determine the re-eligibility of people claiming refugee status

• Work in cooperation with team members and department supervisors

 


 

Typical Salaries in This Field

As you contemplate your future and weigh the pros-and-cons of potential career paths, one of the key factors ultimately influencing your decision is money. Yes, money.


 

Depending on your personality, the first questions you may have had about your future as a citizenship and immigration officer may revolve around your potential earnings.


 

Before you try to find a representation of your future salary in an online job advertisement, beware that this may inaccurately reflect what you would be earning - as there are several factors that will influence your salary:


 

• Your academic qualifications

• The specific responsibilities within your role     

• Other skills and prior work experience

• Terms of employment: permanent employee or contract work

• Geographic location within your country, or internationally


 

With these factors in mind, here is a look at what you could be earning as a citizenship and immigration officer:


 

Salary - Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Immigration, Employment Insurance and Revenue Officers occupational group earn an average salary of $55, 877 per year. Unfortunately, reliable salary information is not available for the rest of Canada, at the time of writing.


 

Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, Americans working as Immigration Officers can earn between $58,562 and $108,507 per year.

 

 

 

Citizenship & Immigration Officer Jobs

Our job board below has "Citizenship & Immigration Officer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Typical Working Conditions

Working Hours: In this role, you would likely work standard weekday office hours. Some travel within your municipality or region, and occasional overtime may be required.


 

Interpersonal Aspect: Most of the people that you would interview would be friendly, cooperative and honest, but you could expect to occasionally have to deal with individuals who are dishonest, uncooperative, hostile or engaged in criminal activities. You would also be in regular contact with cooperating agencies, such as the enforcement arm of the citizenship and immigration branch of government.

 


 

Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Citizenship and Immigration Officer, as they may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities.


 

Airport Security Officer: Airport security officers are responsible for screening passengers who are preparing to board an airline. They must ensure that no dangerous passengers or items make it aboard the airline.
Read more...


 

Border Services Officer: Border services officers are responsible for administering and enforcing the customs related laws and regulations of a country by controlling the movement of people, vehicles and goods into and out of that country.
Read more...


 

Immigration Consultant: Immigration consultants provide assistance and guidance to individuals who are seeking to become permanent residents of a country. They aim to ensure that potential residents are given the tools they need to confidently navigate the complex administrative and legal waters of the immigration process.
Read more...


 

Police Officer: Police officers are responsible for maintaining law and order within a municipality in order to protect the public. Police officers must detect and prevent crimes, detain criminals and enforce laws.
Read more...

 


 

References for This Guide

To find out more about what a citizenship and immigration officer does, how much they earn, and other details of this career, please consult the following resources:


 

Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca

Humber College website: www.humber.ca

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website: www.uscis.gov

 


 

Helpful & Relevant Scholarships

Looking for Canadian or American scholarships to help you on your way to becoming a citizenship and immigration officer? We’ve got you covered! Here's how to find the best-suited scholarships:


 

• On academicinvest.com, our scholarship listings are sorted by major

• The “Applicable Majors” section below shows majors that apply to this career

• Visit our All Scholarships by Major page to find scholarships sorted by those majors

 


 

Applicable Majors

The university majors below are applicable to a career as a citizenship and immigration officer, as they can teach you relevant skills and competencies. Click on the majors to find out what other careers are applicable to them!

 


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