ICE Criminal Investigator Description

Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent

The almost 6,700 HSI Special Agents are assigned to more than 200 U.S. cities and 47 nations abroad. These field operatives execute criminal investigations into any criminal or hostile activities which threaten national security, international trade, or travel. In order to fulfill its responsibilities in protecting the nation, HIS Special Agents may be assigned to various branches.

The HSI Intelligence Office is a major intelligence gathering and analysis organization of the U.S. government. Using a variety of cutting edge tools, HSI-Intel monitors current and emerging threats to the country including terror groups, drug cartels, international criminal organizations and multinational gangs. Special Agents serve in a variety of roles in procuring intelligence including

  • Undercover operations
  • Criminal and terror network infiltration
  • Interviews and interrogations
  • Crime scene reproduction
  • Surveillance
  • Tactical operations

The intelligence collected and processed by HSI-Intel is then disseminated to field operatives in ICE or to other agencies.

International Operations is a specialized branch of ICE that targets transnational criminal organizations and disrupts their attempts to harm the nation or its interests abroad. HSI Special Agents in this branch identify and neutralize international smuggling operations which import or export narcotics, humans, sensitive technologies or money.

HSI Special Agents also oversee critical components of national security programs. The National Security Investigations Division (NSID) monitors the international exchange of information, technology and materials which may be used to create nuclear, chemical or biological Weapons of Mass Destruction. HSI Special Agents may gather intelligence on foreign governments or hostile organizations which may be attempting to obtain these sensitive assets and conduct investigations or interdiction operations. This division is also responsible for ensuring that only approved trade partners purchase conventional guns, weapon systems and technology.

Salary & Benefits

As one of the premier positions in federal law enforcement, agents working within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are provided with a considerable salary and many important benefits. The base salary for an entering HIS Special Agent ranges from GL-7 to GL-9, which have salaries from $33,979 up to $54,028 per year. There is the potential for promotion up to GL-13, which has an upper salary of $93,175.

In addition to the base salary, law enforcement officers in ICE enjoy additional bonuses. An additional bonus is paid to agents depending upon their assigned jurisdiction and the cost of living associated with that geographical location. A 25 percent bonus is also paid agents for performing hazardous duty and being available during off hours; this is commonly designated as Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP).

There are a number of benefits associated with these positions including:

  • Federal Employees Health Benefits—the government will pay up to 75 percent of the health insurance
  • Federal Law Enforcement Retirement Coverage—law enforcement officers may retire with full benefits at 50 years of age if they have 20 or more years of service. Any officer may retire after 25 years of service.
  • Annual vacation and sick days—agents may receive from 104 to 208 hours of leave time per year, depending upon seniority. An additional 104 hours of sick leave are also allotted to agents.
  • Thrift Savings Plan—this federally subsidized retirement plan deducts up to three percent from wages.

In addition to these major benefits, ICE personnel may also take advantage valuable benefits like Vision & Dental, Life Insurance, and Continuing Education Discounts.


ICE Jurisdiction & Investigative Priorities ICE Experience & Education Requirements