INS Agent

Background of U.S. Flag wiht words "Career as INS Agent" n black overlaid. Caption reads, A career as an INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) Agent is both rewarding and challenging.

Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent (INS Agent)





The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents are government employees who facilitate the entry of legal immigrants and visitors into the country. 

The Role of INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) Agent in Criminal Justice and Law

INS Agents are responsible for enforcing laws related to immigration, borders and customs. The foremost duty of the INS agent is to inspect and determine the legal eligibility of individuals seeking to enter the territories of the country. They have an authority to detain and deport individuals who try to enter the country illegally. Immigration agents, criminal investigators, border patrol agents and detention and deportation officers are the part of INS force.

English: The seal of the old United States Imm...
English: The seal of the old United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, which existed from 1870 to 2003. It is primarily a variation on the seal of the Department of Justice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The job of the immigration officers is inspection of passports, preparation of reports, maintenance of records and processing applications and petitions of temporary residents or immigrants. The INS agents are responsible for identifying and preventing the unauthorized entry of any undocumented foreign nationals into the country. They apprehend the violators. The agents intercept any illegal import and drugs smuggled across the border. The work place of these agents is either inside the federal buildings or outdoors in the field.

This job might be very appealing for individuals who have keen interest in investigative technique, law enforcement and prevention of crime. Risk and danger is a part and parcel of this job but with great job benefits and a rewarding career. The INS is an equally important arm of the justice department just like the FBI and DEA.

As of July, 2002 the INS agency had hired 1,146 agents and was still not able to fill two thousand more positions.

Educational Requirements to Become an Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent (INS Agent)

Immigration and Naturalization Service & Assay...
Immigration and Naturalization Service & Assay Office Building (also known as United States Immigrant Station and Assay Office, Immigration and Naturalization Service Building, INS Building, etc.) 815 Airport Way South, International District, Seattle, Washington. The building has been vacant since October 2004; the federal government has announced its intent to give the building to some institution that can make good use of it; several have applied. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although not obligatory, the aspirants for INS must hold bachelor’s degree preferably in criminal justice, homeland security and international law. Some entry-level positions do not require a bachelor’s degree but undoubtedly they have an advantage over the less educated ones.  Applicants who do not have a bachelor’s degree must attain professional work experience so as to be eligible for the position. Participating in the Federal career internship offered by federal government will provide you with on-the-job training under professional and experienced immigration officers. It is a 2 years internship program which may lead to permanent employment.

The nature of job of an INS agent is to deal with immigrants from different countries and cultures. So, it is highly recommended to learn an additional language. Many immigration officers learn Spanish as an additional language. It raises your chances of selection and promotion.




The applicants for INS must be between 18 and 40 years of age. They must pass a physical examination and drug screening.

Preparation for a Career as an Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent (INS Agent).

Having police skills and knowledge of international trade and immigration policies are the requirements for being an INS agent. The applicants must only be the citizen but also spent three to five years staying in the country. It is imperative for the applicants to have a valid driving license and a clean driving record. A clean criminal record is a must for the candidates to be qualified for INS. As the job requires a lot of physical task like police officers, the candidates are required to be physically fit to pass a physical fitness test to be eligible. You should perform pushups and endurance cardio.

Immigration inspectors, circa 1924
Immigration inspectors, circa 1924 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The job of immigration officer requires you to read and understand the law that are enforced by you. So to be competent, you must complete a four years degree in the field related to public service for example political science, criminal justice and homeland security. To have a leg up when applying for this job, you must know how to speak and understand a second or even third language. You can take additional courses to increase your chances of getting selected.

The candidates are required to take a written test for mental ability which asks you to interpret text, perform basic mathematical functions and grammatical error detection and correction. You must practice to perform addition, multiplication, division, subtraction, mix numbers, percentages, ratios, fractions etc.

How to Apply for a Position as an Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent (INS Agent)

The aspirants of INS must keep updated with the vacancies coming up with the federal government. You can search for the jobs online on USAJOBS website or www.ice.gov/about/investigations/contact.htm (the official website of SAC). You can find the required vacancy under immigration.

English: U.S. Immigration and Naturalization S...
English: U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service map of alien smuggling routes broken by Operation “Seek and Keep” in 1998. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Candidates can apply following the directions on the USAJOBS website. The application must be complete and honest.

If you are lucky enough to make it to the next level of the selection process you will be required to sit for a series of eligibility tests. The written test comprises of arithmetical reasoning, logical reasoning and writing skills. The next level is an oral examination where you are evaluated based on your communications skills, emotional intelligence, reporting ability and knowledge. Passing a medical and fitness exam is the last process of selection.

Additional Information Related to a Career as an Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent (INS Agent)

After being employed as INS agents, the candidates undergo a paid, 9 weeks training program. The training is based on legal knowledge, decision-making skills, perspective and interview training.

The immigration agents are hired by Special Agent in Charge (SAC) officers.

The cities along the southern end of Florida, between United States and Mexico are the top cities to offer jobs for immigration agents.

Average Salary of an Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent (INS Agent)

The salary of the Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent is generally between $47,821 and $67,913 per annum. The pay may differ depending upon the job position and experience. The INS agents avail great job benefits.

Notes: The applicants having work experience with the federal government, the military, vista and the peace corp. have an edge over other applicants. The preference in recruitment is always given to veterans and federal employees having experience of minimum three consecutive years. The aspirants must keep in mind the maximum age limit for applying for the INS is 40 years.



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