How Do I Become an Asylum Officer?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Applicants to become an asylum officer typically need to pass background screening, have appropriate experience or educational credentials, and successfully interview for the position. Asylum officers represent the immigration service in their nation and work with applicants for asylum to determine if they qualify. The work requires the ability to interview people successfully and sensitively to extract necessary information, and to adjudicate cases fairly and reasonably. As with other government jobs, the position comes with access to benefits and pay increases with experience and seniority.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

To pass the background check, it is necessary to be a citizen with a good record. Immigration authorities may require drug testing as part of the job application as well. When positions open up, candidates for jobs can submit applications and if they meet the basic requirements, they will be sent a questionnaire or asked to sit for the civil service exam. The outcome of this test determines whether a candidate is called in for an interview.

There are two options people can use to qualify to become an asylum officer. One is to hold a college or university degree, preferably a master's, law degree, or doctorate degree. The subject of the degree should align with immigration topics; political science, for example, would be an acceptable field of study for someone who plans to become an asylum officer. The other option is to build up experience in the civil service by working in other positions within the immigration department and achieving a civil service rank high enough to apply for a job opening.

Candidates selected for interview to become an asylum officer can expect a series of questions about their experience, qualifications, and approach to hypothetical immigration cases. The government may also perform a more extensive background check to look for conflicts of interest or other issues that might be impediments to employment. A candidate with a history of political activism, for example, might not be desirable, especially if the activism lies in the area of immigration and asylum.

If the government accepts an applicant, the next step to become an asylum officer is training. The length of training can vary, and usually requires living on site at a government facility for several weeks. At the end of training, an officer can start work, initially under supervision and eventually independently. The work requires interviewing people, documenting their cases, maintaining detailed records, and writing up recommendations and opinions that will hold up to appeals in the event an application is denied.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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