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Feb 26, 2024 | Nancy Chen

Immigration Judge Job: Salary, Requirements and More

Immigration judges determine whether migrants are eligible for refugee protection, lawful status, or if someone will lose their legal immigration status.

Immigration adjudicators, or immigration judges, are appointed by the United States Attorney General. Simply put, they can decide whether a migrant can lawfully remain in the country or must leave the U.S. This article explains the power of immigration judges and the application process.

What is an immigration judge?

The role of an immigration judge is to ensure the security of the country by leading immigration hearings, according to the Department of Justice. Their work includes applying immigration laws and determining whether migrants are eligible for refugee protection, lawful status, or if someone will lose their legal immigration status.

Currently, some 600 immigration judges are working in 68 immigration courts and three adjudication centers across the country. They may hear cases in person or through video teleconferencing.

What are the requirements to apply for to be an immigration judge?

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) “looks for candidates with good temperament, appropriate demeanor, good courtroom management skills, and skill at conducting proceedings in a courteous, fair and impartial manner.” They welcome individuals with diverse backgrounds. Veterans, queer individuals and people with disabilities are all encouraged to apply.

If you want to become an immigration judge, you are required to have:

  • A LL.B., J.D. or LL.M. degree
  • An active bar membership
  • Seven years of post-bar admission legal experience

How do I apply and what does the process involve?

You can check job vacancies through this government website and also sign up for job alerts. When the spot is available, follow the instructions and apply.

After the application closes, all applications will first be screened to see if they are complete and meet the minimum requirements. Of the applications that pass the first round of screening, the strongest applicants will be offered to attend an interview. The strongest candidates in the first round of interview will be scheduled for a second round of interview. The strongest among the second round will be tentatively offered a job and subjected to a background check. The background check includes your references, employment history, tax and credit history, as well as bar complaint and criminal history. Finalists need to provide their fingerprints and take a drug test.

More details can be found on the DOJ’s website, which also provides common pitfalls you should avoid while filing your application and information about what the job entails.

It can take three to four months for an offer to be sent out after the job posting ends. The DOJ will not notify you if you aren’t selected. But you are always welcome to reapply.

The DOJ website also has a pay rate table based on the judge’s location for your reference. The salaries for an immigration judge range from $149,644 to $195,000.

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