The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service processes the applications of about one million migrants to this country each year. Qualified job seekers who successfully navigate the federal application process will land a variety of challenging career positions with the agency this fiscal year.
New Hires Needed to Process Those Immigrating and Seeking Asylum
More than one million immigrants are likely to reach our shores or receive permanent U.S. resident status in 2016. A small fraction of these aspiring Americans will seek asylum here as refugees. But however the political winds may blow regarding political refugees from beleaguered nations such as Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service will likely need thousands of new employees to process often-complex applications in 2016, according to The Resume Place.
A Naturalized Citizen Sees Opportunity to Prosper, and to Serve
Paola Palacios is one American who saw career opportunity at USCIS, the busiest agency of its kind in the world. Palacios, an immigration services officer, GS-5, began her first federal job at the agency’s Eastern Telephone Center in New York City in February 2015.
“I initially became interested after I went through naturalization myself,” she says. “Having experienced the system and process firsthand – that allows me to better serve our agency and our people. I thought it would be a great way to serve my country.” Palacios immigrated to the United States from Colombia in 2000.
USCIS Is a Major Federal Employer with a Vital Mission
What’s the mission of USCIS? A unit of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency provides accurate and useful information to customers and grants immigration and citizenship benefits. USCIS has 19,000 government employees and contractors working at 223 offices around the globe. USCIS also supports immigrants’ integration and participation in American civic culture.
The agency is bullish on its hiring plans. “USCIS modeling indicates that the agency will need as many as 1,700 to 2,400 new employees agency-wide in fiscal year 2016,” says Carolyn Gwathmey, a spokesperson with USCIS in Washington, D.C. Most of the hires will be immigration service officers, asylum officers, immigration officers, immigration analysts, and management and program analysts. The agency’s funding is determined by the number of applications and petitions it receives – so a net increase in immigration can result in more hiring.
Reservist Palacios Followed the Steps to Land the Job
Palacios was already serving her country when she applied for her first civilian government job. “I was working part-time active reserve in the Air National Guard when I was offered the job at USCIS,” she says.
Palacios qualified for the USCIS job in part because of her previous professional experience reviewing personnel applications, analyzing and maintaining confidential data, and researching laws. Immigration services officers must decipher immigration and nationality laws and explain them to customers in plain language. All of USCIS’ job announcements are posted on USAJobs.gov.
The federal application and hiring process took a number of weeks; Palacios found success by following instructions meticulously, one step at a time. The agency’s site advises applicants to include all vital information such as resumes, transcripts, veteran documentation, and anything else that could help determine qualification. The application process for Palacio’s position required drug screening and a background investigation, including financial disclosure.
“Whether you’re applying to Customs and Immigration, another DHS agency, or another government department, the federal job application process is demanding and somewhat unforgiving,” says Kathryn Troutman, president of The Resume Place and author of Military to Federal Career Guide 2nd Edition.
An Entry-Level Career Opportunity with Plenty of Room to Grow
Palacios’ daily responsibilities are wide ranging. “We respond to customer questions about case status and immigration benefits,” says Palacios. “The biggest challenge is handling the large influx of calls that we receive daily, while striving to provide great customer service.”
Palacios likes the job for its diverse challenges. “What I enjoy is all the opportunities to expand my knowledge,” she says. “Every day we encounter situations that require research and investigation. We have many opportunities for professional development, and the agency supports me as military member.” She continues to serve in the Air Active Guard Reserve Program.
USCIS offers a variety of benefits such as telework, flexible work schedules, transit subsidy, training and career development programs, mentoring programs, health, dental, vision, life, and long-term care insurance, as well as a retirement plan.
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John Rossheim writes about healthcare reform, and about careers, employment and workplace issues in healthcare and other industries. As a staffer or freelancer, John has written and edited articles and other communications for Microsoft’s MSN, Ziff-Davis, Fast Company, Brown University, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Providence Journal and many more. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Chicago; his graduate studies were at Brown and at Temple University, where he earned a master’s in linguistics.