UK Citizen wants to work in US law-enforcement

Hi there everyone, I’m a UK undergraduate, chosing my degree/masters course for next year. It’s going to be something physics/science-based, because that’s what I’m good at.

However, I’ve always wanted a job in the police, and hopefully move into CID or something, make a proper career out of it. It’s simply what I want to do, and I’ve always wanted to do it, regardless of what other employment opportunities there are for a graduate of physics or engineering or whatever it is I’ll end up doing

Recently, though, I’ve been looking into different careers in UK police agencies, and most of it just seems so ‘quaint’ and British, and the only ways to get into the real exciting jobs, like in Special Branch, are to have served in the army for many years. Something which I could do, but dont want to.

So I had a gander at US pages, and it seems the routes to becoming field agents, and the jobs that have the element of excitment that I want, are so much easier!

Except for the whole matter of not being a US citizen.

So I’ve been searching around this internet-thing for a while, looking at ways to live and work in America, and I’m lost in a sea of visas, green cards, naturalization oaths and suchlike. It’s so complicated! What also sucks, is that because I’m English, there’s no green-card lottery or anything for me.

If anyone could give me an overview of what my post/pre Uni options are, that would be really useful. And if anyone has any idea if persons of British origin are commonly accepted into agencies like the FBI, that’d help!

I’m thinking I can get a postgraduate job with a company that has offices worldwide, and see what transfer oppotunities arise. Then work on an H1B visa for as long as I can, and see if I can take the naturalization test.

Or see if I can find love with an American girl and get citizenship that way.

So…can you help, guys? Give me an insight…

But won’t you miss getting to say, 'Allo, what’s all this then?

Disclaimer: YMMV, consult your local US embassy/consulate for definitive answers

The US, generally speaking, has local, state, and federal law enforcement. Getting a job as a Fed generally is predicated on holding US citizenship. (But foreign-born citizens can, and do, get clearances, as long as they do not hold valid foreign passports.) Rules for local and state law enforcement varies, probably depending on what kind of hiring shortage particular places are having…

OK, I’ll jump in and give you the basics until a pro like Eva Luna comes along.

First, you can NOT work on a tourist visa. It is illegal. It will get you deported and any company that hires you without proof of resident status will suffer major fines. It short, no big, reputable company will do it.

To work in the U.S., you MUST have that Green Card showing permanent residency or, at least, have applied for the Green Card with a valid reason so that the Immigration nazis will issue you a temporary work permit.

What’s a valid reason? You just married a U.S. citizen. That’s the easiest one. Or, if you are truly talented, you might be able to persuade an employer to prepare an official document that says you have skills they have not been able to find in someone already resident in the U.S.

So, here’s the timeline:

  1. Vist the U.S. on a tourist visa. Do NOT tell the officer at the airport that you’re hoping to stay. A tourist visa allows you to stay for two months.

  2. During that period, either marry a U.S. citizen or sweet-talk a corporation as described above. If you succeed in either one, you must then do the following before the two month period ends.

  3. File for an Adjustment of Status (from tourist to resident) with all the associated forms and fees. You will need professional help for this and about $1,200.

  4. After about three months, you will be issued a temporary work permit while your case is pending. At this point, you can start hunting for a job…but you should be warned that the U.S. job market is weak at the moment.

  5. You will be issued the Green Card showing permanent residency (assuming that you succeed in jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops) after a period varying from 6 months to two and a half years, depending on the backlog of the local office where you live.

  6. From the date your Green Card is issued, you can become a U.S. citizen after three years if you married a citizen or after five years if an employer is sponsoring you.

  7. It is my impression that the great majority of law enforcement jobs require citizenship but research on your part or the knowledge of other dopers may indicate otherwise.

The bottom line is that it is a long, difficult, expensive process. I don’t mean to disillusion you…but you should be aware that it won’t be easy.

If you make it, welcome to America! :slight_smile:

So what you’re saying is your research has suggested that getting the job you want in the UK is hard (because it’s difficult, highly skilled, well paid, and requires years of experience), whereas the US equivalents aren’t fussy, as long as you’re American.

But the British jobs are ‘quaint’, while the US jobs are sexy.

:dubious: I think you’ve been watching too much TV.

I can’t comment on the possibility of marrying a US citizen while in the US on a tourist visa or on a visa waiver (which would be available to a UK citizen).

However, I don’t think that you can move to an employment visa while in the US as a visitor. In my situation of a few years ago, my employer’s lawyers advised me to stay out of the US while I was in the process of getting a temporary employment visa.

On the other hand, I did go through adjustment of status from a temporary emnployment visa to a green card, while staying and wrking in the US, after winning the green card lottery. The downside to that was that while adjusting statis, I was not allowed to leave the US without getting an advance parole. (And I did get an advance parole, since I needed to go to conferences in Australia and Canada while in adjustment of status.)

It’s not easy, and at almost every step you need to pay some money. In Witty’s case, I think it will be impossible without marrying a US citizen. To get a temporary employment visa, your prospective employer needs to prove that you have special skills, and that they can’t find them in the US. That seems unlikely, given that he has no work experience in the area.

The process I described is exactly the way it worked for my wife, who is Greek. Yes, you can get married on a tourist visa and apply for permanent residency. We’ve been married for three years now and went through the whole process. It was harrowing…but it worked: She has her Green Card and will apply for citizenship in about 2 years.

You can get married on a tourist visa and apply for Adjustment of Status. You also can get fucked out of the country for visa fraud, since you’ve demonstrated that you lied about your intentions when you entered the country. In short, it is Not A Recommended Option, the fact that some people have gotten away with it notwithstanding.

ruadh, ex-Immigration Paralegal

You can probably guarantee that I’ve been watching too much TV, but that doesn’t have too much bearing on what I want to do.

Fact is, the UK is small, and although London is great and I’d enjoy working there, I want to experience working in a ‘proper’ big-city, with all the crime and nasty bits entailed. The bits that I want to help sort out. It’s kinda hard to explain, but America’s just so much bigger and diversified that I dont think I’ll get stuck somewhere and get bored.

Although part of me might just want to be Jack Bauer. He’s cool. But that’s not all this is about!

I’ve read about a H1B visa, which enables the owner to live and work in the US for a maximum of six years, following employer-sponsership. Apparently they’re not the easiest things to get hold of, but I thought if I talk to British Aerospace or similar companies who are always looking for engineering/physics graduates and the like, someone could ship me off to the states. However, I’ve obviously got to be careful about telling an employer my true motives. “Oh yeah, basically, I want to use you for the plane ticket and temporary employment. But then I’ll find some girl and f-off!”

Thankyou everyone for your help with this hope of mine, I’m aware it’s a long way off, but it’s something to set my sights on, and something to work towards. It’ll give me a better direction so I can focus on my degree. And maybe do well. Maybe.

It’s very late, here in merry ole’ England, should get some sleep. Tomorrow I should get a chance to read all your replies properly, I’m just sleepily-skimming now.

A-Level results tomorrow…let’s see if I can get to University or just give up all hope now!



Hmmm, just noticed that in my OP, I’ve used a lot of 'z’s. Getting ready for a life the other side of the pond, I s’pose. Or just not being able to spell properly. Naturalisation, not Naturalization. I think that’s how we’re supposed to spell it. Good job I dont want a degree in Enlglish…

Good luck with your results.

And, by the way, just so you know, you’re not an undergraduate until you are a matriculated student in a University.

Did not know that, thankyou! I dont really get it, I’m ‘under’ graduating, well, in that graduating is chronologically above me. So to speak. Or something. All the prospectuses I have are ‘undergraduate prospectuses’, is that because they are for undergraduate courses? Too complicated.

I was going to put college student, but then I realised that since college means different things in the UK and US (or so I’ve been lead to believe), it would complicate things!

Well the results went well. I did a lot better than I thought I would do, lowest mark was a ‘B’, but I managed to get a B in Physics. Which is silly really, it’s just a couple of C-Standard modules holding my grade down. So I’ll retake them and bring it up next year. I know a B is still a good grade, but it’s more of a pride thing now. I know I’m good at physics, but I’m childish and want other people to know!

So it looks like a degree in Mechanical/Electrical Engineering or Physics will be possible, so a job with British Aerospace or somewhere might get me set on the path to the US. Maybe.

If I do it this way, then an employer could argue that I have the qualifications/experience necessary to make my employment vital to America. I think that’s what I’ve got to get done anyway. I’ll write to the embassy and see if I can get more information from them. The web is confusing!



No, you have NOT demonstrated that you have lied about your intentions. You have demonstrated that life is full of surprises, i.e.: you were swept off your feet by that marvelous woman and got married on impulse. These things happen, they’re perfectly acceptable to Immigration, and very difficult to disprove. Under the current case load and backlog, the Immigration folks don’t really have time to investigate very far.

And, I might add, we were coached by an immigration attorney.

But, in any case, I gather this is rather off the OP’s radar as he’s hoping for different options.

And where has Eva Luna disappeared to these days?

When I was in the business, the presumption was that you had lied and it was up to you to demonstrate otherwise. I don’t know if that’s changed or not, but I would strongly encourage anyone considering the course of action you’re recommending to find out first. The important thing here is that what you are suggesting is illegal. Just because some people get away with it does not change that fact, nor I believe does it make it acceptable to post on the SDMB.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad immigration attorneys out there.

Witty, welcome to the board.

To all those knowledgeable about immigration and work permits, shouldn’t he be able to wangle something based on being some sort of forensic analyst? Physics graduates who want to do that can’t be a dime a dozen.

Now, hang on. That almost suggests that no Adjustments of Status would be considered legitimate, if indeed “the presumption was that you had lied and it was up to you to demonstrate otherwise.” Would the assumption have been, after I entered the UK in 1995 on a student visa and later applied for residency after marrying a UK citizen, that my real (and illegal) purpose was not to attend university but rather to find a UK citizen to marry so that I could reside in the country permanently? An assumption that I further “demonstrated” by then foolishly getting divorced, and subsequently leaving the country before I’d finished my degree?

No, as much as I was effed over by immigration services, the presumption of guilt was never on me. So long as I proved that my wife and I were living together and that I was not relying on social services for income, Lunar House didn’t particularly care why I’d entered the country in the first place.

Not that this will help the OP, and not to encourage a flood of emigrants searching for eligible spouses in the US. But an appeal for adjustment of status is simply not automatically treated as invalid.

Contact the FBI Legat in London. The US Embassy will give you the contact info.

No, it doesn’t. There’s a very big difference between marrying someone a significant period of time after you enter on a nonimmigrant visa, and marrying someone within a month or two of entering on a nonimmigrant visa, the latter of which is what the previous poster was talking about. The former will not set off any alarm bells in and of itself. The latter will.

Thanks! I’ve been here for a couple of years now (or some long-ish period of time), but I’ve never posted much, obviously. This is the first ‘welcome’ that I’ve got, so it’s appreciated!

With reference to the forensics bit, some of the courses I’m looking at are along those sorts of lines, so there’s always the possibility that I could go over and jump straight into the work that I want to do.

Most likely, however, will be that you need to be a citizen to do anything with FBI etc. Well, that’s my sort of luck, anyway. So the most reasonable thing I can hope to do is to get a job actually using my degree over in the States, and work towards Citizenship over a longer timescale. Not only would I be on my way to achieving my ambitions that way, but I’d also be the only one of my siblings/cousins to get a job actually related to their degree!

I know it’s just TV, but I’d like to point out that two of the 6 main medical examiner characters on Crossing Jordan are immigrants–one English and one Indian. Of course, they are medical doctors first, and crime scene investigators second. An M.D. must make it easier to get that work permit.

Hi all!

Just popping in briefly, because I have a pile of stuff to do, but some relevant points:

  1. Listen to ruadh. She knows what the heck she is talking about.
  2. The most commonly work visa category for a situation such as this one, the H-1B, requires that the position in question have a minimum educational requirement of a bachelor’s degree (or the foreign equivalent) in a particular field, and that the foreign national for whom the employer is seeking the H-1B possesses the required level of education. Many straight law enforcement positions don’t require bachelor’s degrees, so you may run into a problem there.
  3. The Federal Government, as a rule, will not hire non-U.S. citizens. Some jobs, as already mentioned, have stricter citizenship requirements for security reasons, and law enforcement is likely to fall into that category.
  4. I have no idea whether the above item is true at the state and/or local government level.
  5. People entering the U.S. without a visa on the Visa Waiver program are generally granted a stay of 90 days, not 2 months.
  6. However, there is always the possibility of finding a law enforcement-related job in the private sector, but one that requires at least bachelor’s degree. (Medical examiner/pathologist would certainly be an example of that, but the visa and professional licensing requirements for doctors are a whole different ball of wax, and one I don’t generally deal with.)

Eva Luna, Immigration Paralegal and former U.S. Government employee