Working as an Adjudications Officer with USCIS
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
The USCIS is essential to American security as it regulates immigration into the United States and ensures that those who are admitted as immigrants will not prove harmful to U.S. security or be a burden on society. This branch of U.S. security offers a large number of desk jobs that may appeal to job seekers interested in the law enforcement field who do not meet the physical requirements needed for fieldwork in organizations like the FBI or Secret Service.
The most prominent of USCIS positions is that of adjudications officer – this is the person who determines whether an applicant for U.S. immigration is eligible to enter the United States.
Job Description: A Day in the Life of an Adjudications Officer
Adjudications officers review applications for immigration and immigration benefits and make decisions regarding these requests based on their extensive knowledge of immigration laws and practices. The officer is responsible for determining applicant eligibility for benefits such as immigration, employment, and legal status.
An adjudications officer’s day involves reviewing the information in applications, interviewing applicants, checking applicant’s references and conducting background checks. Officers may also hear appeals and review or reconsider old immigration cases. They may also be required to appear as witnesses in court in cases involving immigrants, including deportation hearings and criminal cases.
General Requirements and Training
All USCIS adjudications officers must be U.S. Citizens in good standing with the law. Candidates must undergo drug testing, a background investigation, and receive security clearance in order to be hired.
Successful applicants must undergo a six-week training program in Dallas, Texas.
This includes instruction in immigration law, USCIS adjudication procedures, the naturalization process, fraud detection and more.
After this six-week session, potential officers must also attend a one-week practical training session at the National Benefits Center in Lees Summit, Missouri and a one-week session at a District Office or Service Center. Only those candidates who successfully complete all three phases of training will be eligible for employment.
Salary, Benefits and Opportunities for Advancement
USCIS adjudications officers receive an annual salary at the GS-5 ($30,113 – $39,149 base pay annually) or GS-7 ($37,301 – $48,488) level upon initial hiring (2020 salary numbers). Substantial benefits include federal health, dental and vision plans, life insurance, retirement, federal saving plans, paid vacation, social security benefits, and free Medicare after age 65.
There is a possibility for promotion in the USCIS, depending on an adjudication officer’s job performance and the agency’s continued need for higher-level employees. Senior positions result in salary increase, potentially to the GS-12 level.