This page describes the types of work done by administrative assistants, administrative officers and executive/immigration officers. These are the most most common entry levels into the agency.
The descriptions below will give you a flavour of the kind of work done at the level of administrative assistant, administrative officer and executive officer or immigration officer. Increasingly we are also recruiting at more senior levels, to ensure that we have the people with the necessary skills to deliver our business.
Administrative assistants (AAs)
AAs provide the essential support that keeps our organisation running smoothly. Duties typically involve keeping records, sorting files, straightforward letter writing or figure work and dealing with general enquiries from members of the public and their representatives, or from officers in other parts of the organisation. Most posts require the recording or retrieval of information from computer systems, for which training is given. Some of the work will be interesting and varied, while some will of course be routine. Joining a busy, highly professional but friendly team, you'll be involved in providing the full range of administrative support.
Administrative officers (AOs)
AOs are involved in a wide variety of roles. You may be providing advice or assistance to the public by letter or by phone, or sometimes in person across the counter, taking decisions on cases and making initial recommendations to senior officers. You could also be providing administrative support in a policy area, or working in a finance, human resources or IT section, essential to the smooth running of the agency. You may be based in a large team or be part of a small unit. Most posts require the recording or retrieval of information from computer systems, for which full training is given.
Executive officers (EOs)
As an EO in the UK Border Agency you will be posted to one of a variety of roles. You may be in a policy post, which requires an understanding of complex legislation, or in a caseworking post in which you would consider the merits of individual cases. Your job may involve conducting interviews face to face or basing your decision on written applications. Or you may be working in a finance, human resources or IT role, essential to the smooth running of the agency. You may be based in a large team or be part of a small unit. You may have management responsibility for other grades, or be in a post where you are working with minimal supervision.
Higher executive officers (HEOs) - the 'case owner' role
As a case owner, you will work as part of a team to progress an asylum claimant's case, working with the claimant on a one-to-one basis and maintaining contact with them throughout the asylum process. You will be the single point of contact for the claimant, and will see the case through the asylum system to integration or removal.
You will be responsible for the asylum interview, the decision-making, representing the Home Office at appeal hearings, and maintaining contact with the claimant, including regular visits (either at a reporting centre, the claimant's accommodation or a removal centre). You will help the claimant with support and welfare issues, including accommodation. You will provide genuine refugees with all the support they deserve, enabling them to settle and integrate into the community - and in turn will help to create a more inclusive and tolerant society. If the claimant's case is unsuccessful, you will have to ensure that they return home - by trying to persuade them to take advantage of the voluntary return arrangements, or by arranging their enforced removal.
Work as an immigration officer
Assistant immigration officers (AIOs)
AIOs are responsible for the control of persons entering the UK, deciding on their admissibility and (where applicable) refusing entry and effecting the removal of those who have entered or attempted to enter in breach of the Immigration Rules. Some AIOs are responsible for identifying those who are already in the UK in breach of the Immigration Rules, and then taking steps to remove them.
AIOs may provide administrative support to immigration officers, including setting up interviews, taking fingerprints, arranging passenger removals, undertaking a support role in surveillance work and dealing with shipping companies, airlines and other agencies. They also serve forms and deal with phone enquiries from other agency offices and elsewhere. AIOs must wear uniforms while carrying out official frontline operational duties with Border Force.
Immigration officers (IOs)
The immigration service aims to maintain effective entry controls with minimum inconvenience to the travelling public. IOs based at ports of entry examine documents and interview people to establish their eligibility for entry to the UK. IOs need to be courteous and fair, and at the same time objectively evaluate the information presented. Duties may also include caseworking, surveillance, forgery detection and evidence gathering, and arranging for passengers to be removed from the UK.
All new recruits undergo an initial period of specialist training lasting nine weeks - the initial classroom-based training programme is nearly five weeks, followed by an operational coaching period of four weeks. Candidates will need to be available for the duration of this training period. Courses are usually held in the Dover area, Manchester, Stansted, near Heathrow Airport or at Gatwick Airport.
New IOs must acquire a good working knowledge of immigration legislation and associated rules and instructions. They also receive instruction in interviewing techniques. Further practical training is carried out on the job under the supervision of experienced officers who are always available to offer guidance and advice. Selection for these posts is through an assessment centre where you are tested on judgement, conflict management, communication skills (both oral and written) and an awareness of diversity and equal opportunity. IOs must wear uniforms while carrying out official frontline operational duties with Border Force.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you offer work experience opportunities?
Yes, a limited number. Many locations across the Agency assist school students who are looking for work experience. Where possible, we will arrange these placements for either one or two weeks' duration.
How do I find out more about the standards of conduct for civil servants?
Go to the codes and standards section of the Cabinet Office website. The Agency expects a high standard of personal integrity and honesty from its staff. We carry out a range of pre-employment checks in addition to security checks to ensure that candidates meet those requirements.
How do I go about becoming an immigration officer?
As with all our vacancies, you will need to respond to an advertisement (details of where we advertise are above) and follow the instructions on how to apply. The process will normally involve completing an application (possibly online), meeting the required standard on competencies and, for some roles, attending an assessment centre. You will also need to meet the basic eligibility criteria and pass pre-appointment checks on your nationality, health and other matters.
What training and development opportunities do you offer?
We are highly committed to developing our staff. Staff are offered the opportunity to develop their skills through a huge range of internal and external development activities including training courses, e-learning, coaching and mentoring, job shadowing, secondments and out-of-office work experience. All promotion in the Agency is based on the principle of fair and open competition.
Does the UK Border Agency run a graduate scheme?
The Agency does not run its own graduate scheme. However we have approximately 20 posts in policy, operations and corporate services filled by fast streamers recruited through the civil service Fast Stream Scheme, a graduate entry route for senior civil service careers. For further details see the Fast Stream website. We also welcome applications from graduates for other posts in the Agency, particularly at executive officer, immigration officer and higher executive officer level.