ICE Qualifications & Education Requirements

Education & Experience

Because the intellectual demands of serving as a HSI Special Agent are so high, only the most qualified applicants are selected for these elite positions. The minimum educational is a bachelor’s degree or another undergraduate degree with Superior Academic Achievement (SAA). To qualify for SAA, the applicant must have completed all the coursework sufficient for a bachelor’s degree and attained one or more of the following standards:

  • Earned a 3.0 GPA or higher in at least the last two years of coursework
  • Earned a 3.5 GPA or higher for all courses in the major field of study or those major courses in the last two years of coursework
  • Ranked in the top third of graduates at the time of graduation
  • Earned membership into a national scholastic honor society

Meeting the basic or SAA requirements allows agents to enter at the GL-7 pay scale. While ICE does not pinpoint certain majors or coursework for increased competitiveness, it has been suggested that fields of study which relate to operational effectiveness like foreign languages, information technology or finance are more likely to secure a position than others.

For applicants with a Master’s degree, J.D. degree or at least two years of post-graduate coursework, they may be able to enter at the GL-9 pay scale.

Applicants who possess desirable experience in military or law enforcement occupations may also be qualified to join ICE at the GL-9 pay scale. This experience should include at least one year of

  • Participating in investigations
  • Analyzing records, data and evidence in investigations
  • Interviewing suspects and witnesses
  • Obtaining signed statements, documents and affidavits for case records

Applicants who possess at least a bachelor’s degree and three years of criminal investigative experience are usually considered superior candidates by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


As one of the country’s leading investigative and national security agencies, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement utilizes exceedingly high standards to determine eligibility for a HSI Special Agent job. In order to qualify for these positions, applicants must show the highest moral character and personal history. Any of the following will disqualify an applicant:

  • Lack of U.S. citizenship
  • Failure to have resided in the U.S. for three of the past five years; some federal employees or military service men may be exempt from this requirement
  • Not reached their 21st birthday or older than 37 years of age; some military and law enforcement veterans may be exempt
  • Lack of a valid driver’s license
  • Conviction of domestic violence
  • Conviction of felony
  • Inability to complete the 22 week basic training program
  • Inability to meet minimum physical fitness standards
  • Failure to pass a drug test
  • Failure to pass an extensive background check
  • Failure to pass the medical or psychological evaluation
  • Unwillingness to be reassigned to other U.S. offices or postings outside the country

In addition to these disqualifiers, applicants must also pass a background security check which may involve investigation into academic institutions, financial history, prior employers and military service. Entry into more restricted divisions including International Operations or Intelligence may require more intensive evaluation and additional requirements.

he most successful programs in ICE history has been Operation Secure Communities, which investigates any deportable aliens arrested for local law offenses, and screens them for federal law violations. Since 2008, when Operation Secure Communities was initiated, ICE has identified almost 692,000 criminal aliens residing the U.S. and targeted them for deportation.


ICE Criminal Investigator Description ICE Selection & Training