Mon | May 25, 2015

A career as an immigration officer

Published:Wednesday | July 14, 2010
In this October 30, 2006, Gleaner photograph, Sharline Gayle, an immigration officer, looks through a handout before the opening ceremony for a border-protection workshop at the offices of the Jamaica Customs Department. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

I am a recent high-school graduate and I am thinking of a career as an immigration officer. What are the requirements for this job and what exactly does an immigration officer do?

I believe you have made a very good choice as a young person for a career path. A career in the immigration services can be a rather interesting and fulfilling experience.

First, an immigration officer is charged with the responsibility of securing the borders of our country. This is done through the processing of arriving and departing passengers, and crew, at our airports and seaports, as well as applications for extension of stay in Jamaica.

This responsibility requires a high level of commitment and integrity on the part of an immigration officer, as the nation is dependent on him or her to act on its behalf. The officer needs to discharge his or her duty with utmost care and diligence.

A career in the immigration services is also a very rewarding experience, as it affords a unique opportunity to meet people from all over the world. It, therefore, forces you to relate to persons of all races, creeds, cultures and varying personalities. Sometimes one has to adjust his or her approach in different circumstances, while being patient and intuitive.

Immigration officers are the first point of contact for foreigners with the Jamaican people. As such, officers have to ensure while they are vigilant in carrying out their duties as law enforcers, they are also creating a good impression of our country and people by their professional conduct and great customer service.

At times, immigration officers will be posted at our consular offices abroad to perform immigration duties, providing yet another opportunity for interaction with persons in other countries.

Job requirements

An individual who is thinking of a career as an immigration officer should meet the following requirements:

A diploma in public administration or related discipline.

Excellent interviewing skills.

Good oral and written communications skills.

Three years' work experience.

Good interpersonal skills.

Required to work on public holidays and weekends.

Computer literate

Ability to speak a foreign language would be an asset.

The individual would also be required to undergo mandatory training in Jamaican immigration laws and procedures through the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA). Numerous other opportunities for training exist while on the job.

The immigration officer carries out his or her job function by performing the following main duties:

Interviews passengers and crew at airports and seaports to ensure compliance with Jamaican immigration laws and regulations.

Works closely with other law-enforcement entities, both locally and overseas.

PICA hopes this information was adequate in helping you to be clearer about your career goals and better equipped in making your decision for the future.

Send questions to editor@gleanerjm.com and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency will respond.