Agents who work for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) have responsibilities that range from deportation to managing international visitors to the United States to managing immigration files to working as part of a border patrol team. The INS trains agents to work at borders, ports and airports to evaluate passports and other documents that allow international citizens into the country, as well as manage investigations for illegal immigrants, expired visas and more. These agents are equipped to enforce U.S. laws restricting entry into the country by unauthorized people and to monitor the attempted entry of criminals, terrorists and anyone else who could pose a threat to the country. Within this range of responsibility, INS agents also look for illegal drugs, weapons and other materials that are being smuggled into the country. INS agents may work in busy international airports, in port cities, and along the miles of the U.S. border between Canada and Mexico. Working conditions vary, as INS agents may have to be on their feet all day, stationed at checkpoints along the border, or in an office filing a report or getting briefed on new procedures, policies and threats.
The salary range is broad for INS agents and varies depending on education and experience level and geographic location. Federal compensation is usually set up on a very specific system, allowing a lot of room for promotion and salary growth, depending on factors like availability pay and experience. Federal benefits packages are awarded to INS employees and include a health benefits program, dental and vision program, retirement system, group life insurance, long-term care insurance, paid leave, student loan repayment and even a transit subsidy, if you qualify.
INS agents need to have a solid understanding of the specific, real-life practices and systems that make up their everyday job, as well as an understanding of the greater issues that make up the criminal justice system, homeland security and border patrol. Many of these fields are extremely competitive, and in order to qualify for the best positions, prior job experience and a higher degree could be very beneficial. A Master’s degree in a field like criminal justice could help you earn promotions, a higher salary and more responsibility.