Skip To Main Content
DHS Seal Navigates to CBP homepage Logo Navigates to CBP homepage

  About CBP    Newsroom    Border Security    Trade    Travel    Careers  
Report Suspicious Activity to 1-800-BE-ALERT
Report Trade Violations Online - E-Allegations
Whats New In Careers
in Careers

Printer Friendly Page Link Icon
see also:
right arrow
 Locate a Border Patrol Recruiter
 Map of Border Patrol Sectors
(pdf - 5,461 KB.)
 Border Patrol Career Videos
right arrowon
 Border Patrol Agent Candidate Fitness Requirements
 Border Patrol Study Guides
 Explanation of Benefits for New Employees
 U.S. Border Patrol
Border Patrol Agent Online Application
right arrowon the web:
 Office of Personnel Management
 U.S. Department of Defense
 U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Service Credit Deposits and Refunds
 Office of Pesonnel Management - Forms
 Department of Veteran Affairs
 Applications Manager
FAQs – Working for Border Patrol


About Border Patrol
Background Investigation & Polygraph Requirements
Job Requirements
Pay and Benefits
Promotion & Transfer
Basic Training
On Duty

About Border Patrol

Q: What is the Border Patrol and what is its mission?
A: The United States Border Patrol is the mobile, uniformed law enforcement arm of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It was officially established on May 28, 1924 by an act of Congress passed in response to increasing illegal immigration. As mandated by this Act, the small border guard in what was then the Bureau of Immigration was reorganized into the Border Patrol. The initial force of 450 officers was given the responsibility of combating illegal entries and the growing business of alien smuggling.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the focus of the Border Patrol has changed to detection, apprehension and/or deterrence of terrorists and terrorist weapons. Although the Border Patrol has changed dramatically since its inception over 75 years ago, its overall mission remains unchanged: to detect and prevent the illegal entry of aliens into the United States. Together with other law enforcement officers, the Border Patrol helps maintain borders that work - facilitating the flow of legal immigration and goods while preventing the illegal trafficking of people and contraband.

The Border Patrol is specifically responsible for patrolling the 6,000 miles of Mexican and Canadian international land borders and 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida Peninsula and the island of Puerto Rico. Agents work around the clock on assignments, in all types of terrain and weather conditions. Agents also work in many isolated communities throughout the United States.

Q: What are the major activities or duties of a Border Patrol Agent?
A: One of the most important activities of a Border Patrol Agent is line watch. This involves the detection, prevention and apprehension of terrorists, undocumented aliens and smugglers of aliens at or near the land border by maintaining surveillance from a covert position, following up leads, responding to electronic sensor television systems, aircraft sightings, and interpreting and following tracks, marks and other physical evidence. Some of the major activities are farm and ranch check, traffic check, traffic observation, city patrol, transportation check, administrative, intelligence, and anti-smuggling activities.

Q: How do I apply to be a CBP Border Patrol Agent?
A: It’s actually very easy. When the CBP Border Patrol is actively recruiting for agents, information will be posted on the website or on the USAJobs website. ( USAJobs ) ) If you are ready to complete the Online Registration please fill out the Border Patrol Agent Online Application to apply for a position as a Border Patrol Agent. ( Border Patrol Agent Online Application )

Q: Do I have to speak Spanish to join the U.S. Border Patrol?
A: Not in order to get hired. You must learn Spanish while at the Border Patrol Academy and you must pass a series of Spanish tests after entering on duty in order to continue in the Border Patrol.

Q: What is the CBP Border Patrol entrance examination like?
A: The U.S. Border Patrol entrance examination is a three part test which covers logical reasoning, Spanish language (or, if you don’t speak Spanish, an Artificial Language that predicts your ability to learn Spanish), and an assessment of your past experience. For more information on the test, see Border Patrol Entrance Examination. ( Border Patrol Study Guides )

Q: I have heard I have a choice in the entrance examination to take either a Spanish test or something called an Artificial Language Test. What should I do?
A: If you are fluent in formal Spanish, you may wish to take the Spanish Test. However, for those who consider themselves to be native speakers of Spanish are often surprised by the difficulty of the test. If you speak “Spanglish” or “Tex-Mex” you should be aware that standard grammar and vocabulary are emphasized. You also have the option to take the Artificial Language Test (ALT). The ALT is a test that helps us predict your ability to learn Spanish. The test may, at first glance, seem intimidating. It is, in fact, based on the grammar and syntax of neo-Latin languages such as Spanish and French. A good grasp of common structures (how the various parts of speech fit together) combined with a thorough reading of the ALT study guide that you receive when you apply will prepare you for this test.

Q: How long does it take to get hired after you receive a tentative offer letter?
A: This varies from applicant to applicant. Statistically speaking, it takes an average of six to nine months to get through the process. Some of the things that can increase the amount of time it takes are: health issues, complications in your background investigation, or a lack of sufficient or requested information. We recommend that you fill out all materials completely and return them to us promptly, and comply with all the requests of the CBP Minneapolis Hiring Center as quickly as possible to make your application and eventual hiring quick and efficient.

Q: What is the "Oral Board"?
A: The Oral Board is a structured interview given by three Border Patrol Agents. The interview consists of situational questions that do not require technical knowledge. The structured interview assesses a candidate’s judgment/decision making, emotional maturity, interpersonal skills, and cooperativeness/sensitivity to the needs of others. These qualities are the key to successful performance as a Border Patrol Agent. The oral board is a pass/fail interview. Candidates must receive a "pass" in all areas in order to continue in the hiring process. The Oral Board Interview usually takes place within six weeks after you receive a tentative selection letter.

Q: Do I have to pass a drug screening test?
A: Yes. Because the CBP Border Patrol is a federal law enforcement position, you are required to pass a urinalysis drug test in order to be hired. This is a drug test designated position and incumbents are subject to random testing.

Q: What are the Medical Requirements for a Border Patrol Agent?
A: All candidates must be physically able to perform all of the strenuous duties required of a Border Patrol Agent. The duties of this position involve physical exertion under rigorous environmental conditions; irregular hours of work; patrol duties on foot, motor vehicle and aircraft; and participation in physical training. Physical training includes firearms training; employing arrest techniques, defensive tactics and weapons techniques; physical conditioning (for example, running, weight training, swimming, sprinting, etc.); completion of a confidence course including practice sessions and a final timed proficiency course (for example, wall climbing, rope and ladder climbing, crawling through a simulated culvert, ditch jumping); and operating a motor vehicle including simulating emergency responses. All candidates are required to complete a comprehensive pre-employment medical examination to determine your physical ability to effectively perform the strenuous duties of this position without being a hazard to yourself or others. For more information on the medical requirements, please see the information that is available on this web site under the “application process”.

Q: Is the Pre-Employment Fitness Test (PFT 1) different from the medical exam?
A: Yes. Trainees are required to successfully pass a pre-employment fitness test (PFT 1). Administration of the PFT 1 ensures that all new Border Patrol Agents are able to meet the physical demands of both training and day to day operations. The PFT 1 has 3 timed components: 1) push-ups, 2) sit-ups, and 3) an endurance step test. Detailed information on test requirements, including the standards for passing and photographic illustrations of the tests, can be found by visiting the Border Patrol Fitness Requirements located on this web site. ( Border Patrol Agent Candidate Fitness Requirements )

Q: What is the PFT2?
A: The PFT 2 is a 2nd pre-employment fitness test all candidates must pass in order to enter on duty (EOD) and attend the academy. Once your EOD has been established, you will be scheduled to take the PFT 2. The PFT 2 will occur approximately 30 days prior to your start date. For more information see PFT 2 FAQS ( PFT2 FAQS )

back to top

Background Investigation & Polygraph Requirements

Q: What kind of inquiries will CBP make into my background?
A: The background investigation will include credit and criminal history checks, records checks to verify citizenship of family members, verification of birth, education, employment history, and military history. Interviews will be conducted of sources who know the candidate and of any current or former spouse (divorced within the past ten years). Residences will be confirmed, neighbors interviewed, and public records queried for information about bankruptcies, divorces, and criminal or civil litigation. Additional interviews will be conducted, as needed, to resolve any inconsistencies or developed issues.

Q: What types of issues would render me unsuitable for employment?
A: Issues such as poor credit history, criminal background, or association with undesirable individuals or foreign nationals could render an individual unsuitable for employment.

Q: How long does a background investigation take and why do some investigations take longer than others?
A: If you do not provide accurate information or answer all of the questions on the background investigation forms, the investigative process may be delayed. Some individuals have more complex backgrounds than others and, consequently, more time is required to conduct a complete investigation. Other factors that may delay the process are overseas coverage, multiple geographic areas, and numerous employments.

Q: I have a shoplifting conviction (or other misdemeanor crime conviction). Will that keep me out of the Border Patrol?
A: Often this depends on the nature and the frequency of the crime. Many times a small misdemeanor offense will not prevent you from serving in federal government service. However, a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence that prevents you from carrying a firearm – a requirement for a Border Patrol Agent – is a serious issue. Failure to disclose information on your background investigation will definitely prevent you from serving as a Border Patrol Agent. You will be better served by making everything known before the background investigators find problems regarding your background. Problems with bad credit and other possible difficulties in your background should also be disclosed.

Q: Do I have to take a Polygraph Test in addition to having a Background Investigation?
A: The BPA position is a polygraph designated position. There is a high probability that you will be subject to a polygraph examination. The results will be used to determine your suitability for the position.

Q: How should I prepare for the polygraph examination?
A: Try to get plenty of sleep the night before your scheduled exam. Eat something prior to arriving for your exam. Dress is business casual, but you should wear comfortable clothing. If any issue would preclude you from being tested on your scheduled date, please call the examiner and re-schedule your exam. Do not schedule other events for the same day as your scheduled exam. The polygraph process generally takes four to six hours to complete, but may run longer. Bring photo identification (Driver’s License, passport…) and any updated e-QIP (SF-86) information to your exam.

Q: What type of questions will be asked?
A: You will be administered a standardized polygraph exam, that will include questions on your suitability for employment with CBP and national security concerns. All questions will be explained and reviewed with you prior to the actual examination. You will be given an opportunity to discuss any concerns or issues you may have with any question, prior to the actual exam.

Q: What are the possible outcomes of the polygraph exam?
A: Before you leave the polygraph suite, the examiner will advise you if you passed or failed the exam, and offer you the opportunity to comment on any areas of mutual concern. The examiner will explain the (polygraph) Quality Control process to you. In some instances, the examiner may schedule you for additional testing.

Q: What is Quality Control?
A: Under Federal polygraph policies and procedures, your Polygraph Exam and results are submitted to the Polygraph Quality Control (QC) section in the Credibility Assessment Division for final review. If QC concurs with the examiner’s opinion of your polygraph examination, the results are final and will be forwarded to the Personnel Security Division for inclusion in your background investigation file. Otherwise, you may be contacted for additional testing (re-test).

Q: Will the Credibility Assessment Division (Polygraph Unit) contact me again after the Polygraph Exam?
A: Generally no, unless additional testing is required.

Q: Does the Credibility Assessment Division (Polygraph Unit) decide if I get hired?
A: No. The Credibility Assessment Division does not make hiring decisions.

Q: How will I know if I will continue in the application process?
A: Polygraph results are submitted to the Personnel Security Division, and are adjudicated as part of your background investigation. The Credibility Assessment Division (polygraph program) does not participate in the adjudications process. PSD may contact you during the background investigation process to schedule additional interviews or request additional information. You can check the status of your application by visiting Applications Manager website. ( Applications Manager )

Q: What is adjudication and what is involved in the adjudication process?
A: Adjudication is the evaluation of data contained in a background investigation, a polygraph exam, and/or any other available relevant reports, to determine whether an individual is suitable for federal employment or eligible for access to classified information.

Q: What is the difference between Suitability and Security?
A: Suitability is a determination based on an individual's character or conduct that may have an impact on the integrity or efficiency of an agency's mission. Security is a determination of eligibility for assignment to, or retention in, sensitive national security positions.

Q: What is a security clearance?
A: A security clearance is an administrative determination based upon the results of an investigation that an individual is trustworthy and may be granted access to classified national security information.

Q: Why are you going to investigate me? I'm only applying for an entry-level job and I don't need a security clearance.
A: Suitability is always a consideration for federal employment. All individuals employed by the federal government shall be reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and of complete and unswerving loyalty to the United States. This means that the appointment of each employee in any department or agency of the government is subject to investigation. The scope of the investigation will vary, depending on the nature of the position and the degree of harm that an individual in that position could cause.

Q: What happens when I finish all the hiring process requirements?
A: You will be offered a position in the CBP Border Patrol at a pay grade of GL-5, GL-7 or GL-9, depending on your qualifications. This is when you will be told where on the Southern border you will be stationed. The initial offer will be made by phone, followed by a confirmation letter. You will be given a time, date and place to report. Though we try to avoid this, the time between receiving your notification and the time for reporting may be just barely enough time to give your current employer appropriate notice, so please be prepared.

Q: I am currently in the National Guard. Can I be a Border Patrol Agent?
A: Absolutely! The Border Patrol will work with agents on a case-by-case basis to accommodate service with the National Guard. Usually, an agent will take a sabbatical from the National Guard while in training at the academy, and then work with his or her commanding officer to be re-assigned to a unit within commuting distance of his/her duty station.

Q: What should I do if I would like to apply for a Border Patrol Agent position but am currently in the military and won’t be able to start work for a couple of years?
A: If you are interested in future employment, you may certainly obtain information on the website or by speaking with a Border Patrol recruiter in order to prepare yourself. However, we usually recommend that candidates who are active military wait until they are about a year from separation to start the application process with the Border Patrol. If you are so enthusiastic about becoming an Agent that you would like to start the process much earlier, apply on-line through the Border Patrol website and upon successful registration, you will need to contact Minneapolis Hiring Center (MHC) and work out the details on a case by case basis. ( U.S. Border Patrol ) There are many issues involving overseas duty and being present in the US for the parts of the hiring process that will need to be taken into consideration.

               Are you ready to apply? Apply now! ( Border Patrol Agent Online Application )

back to top

Job Requirements

Q: What are the key requirements?
A: The key requirements are:

  • U.S. citizenship
  • No Conviction of Domestic Violence
  • Residency requirement – Candidates must be a US resident for at least three (3) years
  • Must have valid driver’s license at the time of appointment
  • Age requirement – Candidate must not be 40 years of age or older at the time of selection. Exceptions to this is if an applicant currently holds or has previously held a qualifying federal civilian law enforcement (non-military) position with , OR can claim and provide proof of veterans’ preference.
  • Medical Exam
  • Drug Testing
  • Physical Fitness
  • Background Investigation
  • Polygraph Designated Position
  • Physical Fitness Test-2
  • Qualified for GL-5, GL-7 or GL-9
Q: Is there an age limit in the Border Patrol?
A: Yes. Currently you must not have reached your 40th birthday by the time of your referral for selection, However the age restriction may not apply if you are currently serving or have previously served in a federal civilian law enforcement (non-military) position covered by Title 5 U.S.C. 8336(c) or Title 5 U.S.C. 8412(d). The age restriction does not apply if you are a veterans’ preference eligible. Applicants claiming veterans’ preference will be required to provide proof of preference after they have been tentatively selected for the position of BPA. Applicants who are still on active duty and therefore cannot obtain a DD Form 214 can provide a statement of active service dates and a list of medals and awards they have received in lieu of their DD-214.

Q: Are trainees required to learn the Spanish language?
A: Yes. Knowledge of Spanish is essential since many of the persons with whom Border Patrol Agents come into contact speak only Spanish. Within the first two weeks of arrival at the academy, trainees will be tested for their Spanish language skills, and if the applicant passes the language test, they will return to their duty station upon successful completion of the basic training. Trainees who do not pass the Spanish Language test will complete the basic training and will also attend an additional 8 weeks of Spanish language training. Applicants must pass a series of Spanish tests after entering on duty in order to continue in the CBP Border Patrol.

Q: What are some of the training requirements during the first year of employment as a BPA?
A: During the first year of service, the trainee must meet academic and physical training requirements. First, a trainee must attain a passing grade (70%) in each subject while at the Border Patrol Academy. Failure to attain a passing grade will result in termination of the trainee. Second, training continues at the duty station. Post-Academy examinations are also given to the trainee on completion of 6½ and 10 months of service. These examinations are as critical as successfully completing the Academy. Failure to attain a passing grade (70%) on the 6½ or 10-month law and Spanish examinations is considered inadequate performance and becomes grounds for separation.

back to top

Pay and Benefits

Q: What is the pay and benefits package?
A: New agents are hired at the GL-5, GL-7 or GL-9 level depending on education and experience and are paid at a special salary rate for Federal law enforcement personnel. The base starting salary is GL-5 ($38,619), GL-7 ($43,964), and GL-9 ($49,029) grade levels, with excellent opportunity for overtime pay. (Note: Any applicable locality pay would be added to the base rate depending on Duty Location an applicant is selected for). In addition, you'll receive a uniform allowance of $1500.00 and an excellent Federal Government benefits package including life insurance, health insurance, liberal retirement benefits, and a thrift savings plan (401-K).

Q: What are the grades and salary levels?
A: Entry level is at grade GL-5, GL-7 or GL-9, depending on qualifications. Upon successful completion of the 6½-month probationary examination, individuals hired at the GL-5 level are eligible for promotion to grade GL-7, and individuals hired at GL-7 are eligible for promotion to GL-9. Career progression to the GS-11 and GS-12 generally follows after one year at the preceding lower grade level (GL-9/GS-11). Positions above the GS-12 level are filled through agency merit promotion competition. Entry-level Agents are entitled to special salary rates for law enforcement officers, and may be entitled to special locality pay. Information on the current salary schedule is available from your local Office of Personnel Management, from any Human Resources Office, or on the Internet at Office of Personnel Management. ( Office of Personnel Management )

Q: When will I start getting paid?
A: Pay dates are every two weeks. While at the Border Patrol Academy for basic training, you will earn your regular salary. You will also get free lodging and meals at the Academy, plus a small daily allowance for incidental expenses.

Q: Are Border Patrol Agents compensated for overtime work?
A: Yes. Upon return to their official duty stations, after completion of training at the Academy, Agents may earn from 10% to 25% additional pay for the performance of extra duty time. Additionally, Agents also receive night deferential pay, Sunday pay and Holiday pay.

Q: What about salary deductions and insurance benefits?
A: There are deductions for income tax, retirement, and social security. Life and Health insurance plans are available on an optional basis. Deductions vary according to the plans and coverage selected. For additional information, please visit the OPM website. ( Office of Personnel Management )

Q: What are the federal leave benefits?
A: Employees earn annual (vacation) leave according to their years of service, including creditable military service, as follows:
  • Less than three years of service - 13 days leave per year.
  • Three years of service but less than 15 years - 20 days leave per year.
  • Fifteen years of service or more - 26 days leave per year.
All employees can earn 13 days of sick leave per year. Sick leave can be accumulated from year to year.

Q: Are there special retirement benefits?
A: Yes, Border Patrol Agents who have at least 20 years of service are eligible for retirement at age 50. This special provision also applies to law enforcement officers and certain supervisory personnel who have been promoted from law enforcement positions. Retirements are mandatory at age 57 with 20 years of service; however, employees could work beyond 57 until they meet the combination of age and service requirements to retire under law enforcement provisions.

               Are you ready to apply? Apply now! ( Border Patrol Agent Online Application )

back to top

Promotion & Transfer

Q: What are my chances for advancement in the Border Patrol?
A: Excellent! The CBP Border Patrol over the past few years has gone through a phase of unprecedented growth. For those with the skill and ambition, this growth can afford many opportunities for advancement. You'll start out in the low to mid-40’s (including over-time, holiday, and night pay) in your first year. In the next two years, assuming you perform all duties in a satisfactory manner, you can expect to be making up to the mid-50’s. If you are a talented, dedicated agent with a certain amount of ambition, you can expect to be making approximately $70,000 per year (including over-time, holiday, and night pay) after reaching the journeyman grade level of GS-11. Promotions to GS-12 supervisory positions and higher are available on a competitive basis to those who qualify. Each of these steps assumes a greater range of responsibilities and a focus on leadership.

Q: I have experience working with canines (or I just want to work with canines). What are my chances of getting a dog handler position?
A: With the large emphasis in the Border Patrol on drug and narcotics interdiction, the use of dogs is becoming more and more common, so your chances of working with a dog are relatively good. In order to do this; you must first be promoted to the journeyman level. Not every station has dogs, and dogs are trained for detection of humans and narcotics, not for attack. They can be a heavy responsibility since you will assume all kenneling responsibilities.

back to top

Basic Training

Q: What is the training like?
A: As one of the most rigorous and demanding law enforcement training programs in the country, CBP Border Patrol training has become the envy of the federal law enforcement community. For 58 days, you’ll receive instruction in both Border Patrol and federal law enforcement subjects. Specific CBP Border Patrol Courses include: Immigration and Nationality Law, Criminal Law and Statutory Authority, Spanish, Border Patrol Operations, Care and Use of Firearms, Physical Training, Operation of Motor Vehicles, and Anti-Terrorism. Federal Law Enforcement Center (FLETC) courses are: Communications, Ethics and Conduct, Report Writing, Introduction to Computers, Fingerprinting, and Constitutional Law. The CBP Border Patrol Training Academy is located in Artesia, NM. While in training, you will receive full pay and benefits.

Q: How difficult or rigorous is the training?
A: Both the academic and physical training at the Academy are considered to be quite strenuous. Many new Agents say that the amount of academic study required at the Academy was much more than they had anticipated. They also strongly advise those who do not know Spanish to prepare themselves mentally for an intensive Spanish course. The physical part of the program is extremely demanding. Among other physical requirements, at the end of the 55 days, trainees must be able to complete the following: a 1½ mile run in 13 minutes or less; a confidence course in 2 1/2 minutes or less; and a 220 yard dash in 46 seconds or less.

Q: What about expenses at the Academy?
A: Living quarters and meals are provided free at the Border Patrol Academy. In addition, towels, bed linens, and physical training clothing (except tennis shoes) are furnished and laundered at no expense. Trainees are paid a small per diem for incidental expenses in addition to their regular salary.

Q: Can I bring my family to the Academy while I am in training? What about my car?
A: We respectfully discourage trainees from bringing family or automobiles to training. As stated above, Border Patrol training is rigorous. Your off duty hours will be consumed by study and other training-related activities, and the additional responsibilities of family life often prove to be too much for new trainees. The training facilities, in addition, only have living accommodation for trainees. This makes it costly to bring family members. Regarding your car, parking is at a premium at the Academy, and, since in most cases you must fly from your first duty station to training, it is very difficult to bring your car with you. We recommend that you rent a car on weekends if you would like to tour the area.

Q: Who pays travel costs?
A: You pay the initial cost to your assigned sector and then the government pays the cost to and from the training Academy.

               Are you ready to apply? Apply now! ( Border Patrol Agent Online Application )

back to top

On Duty

Q: As a Border Patrol Agent, where will I be stationed?
A: When registering online you will be able to indicate one of 4 geographic locations along the U.S. Southwest border with Mexico. You can expect your first posting to be in California, Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas. (Many stations are in small isolated communities, some of which have poor schools and medical facilities.) Here you will learn the many challenges and rewards of the CBP Border Patrol job more quickly than anywhere else in the country. As one recent academy graduate put it, "This is where all the action is!" Additionally, if you have a location within the border region that you prefer, you can tell us and we will try to place you there, though we can't guarantee we'll be able to. Placements are made based on the current needs of each post.

Q: What are the work hours like in the U.S. Border Patrol?
A: Your work week consists of 40 hours of regular time plus another 9-10 hours of what is termed Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) for covering shift changes, illegal alien processing and other tasks that can’t be scheduled. This is generally the same in all other federal law enforcement positions, and is the reason you will make up to 25% over and above your base salary. Since law enforcement is a 24-hour-a-day job, you will often be working nights, and, depending on your schedule, weekends or holidays.

Q: How much overtime and shift work?
A: A Border Patrol Agent is required to work overtime and may work long hours. Sixty-hour weeks and 10 to 16 hour days are not that uncommon. An Agent works irregular rotating shifts every two to four weeks. These shifts are subject to change, often on short notice.

Q: Is housing supplied?
A: Living quarters and meals are provided free at the Border Patrol Academy. You are responsible for your own housing at your duty station. However, a relocation service company is available for candidates who require relocation assistance. You can also pull information from the Internet by searching the Chamber of Commerce for a particular city.

Q: Should family members accompany the trainees to the duty station?
A: We recommend that trainees should not consider movement of their household goods and family to their permanent post of duty until completion of training at the Academy. Trainees are required to live on campus at the Academy. There are no facilities for family members at the Academy.

Q: What about expenses and costs in the first year?
A: The initial expenses and costs of the first year are substantial. Many Agents claim that it is quite beneficial to have a sound financial status before entering the Service.

Q: Do trainees have to buy uniforms?
A: Yes. Upon arrival at the Academy, trainees will be measured for official Border Patrol uniforms and an initial uniform order will be placed. Trainees receive a $1,500 allowance to offset this cost; however, they are encouraged to have on hand an additional $100 for the purchase of temporary uniform items that are required when first arriving at the Academy. Thereafter, an annual uniform allowance of $500 is provided towards additional or replacement uniforms. A complete set of official and rough duty uniforms costs approximately $1,275.

Q: I am the spouse of an applicant. What will my life be like at the new duty station?
A: What your lifestyle is like will largely depend on where you are stationed. If it is a rural area and you are used to city life, you may be surprised by the change. You may have to drive a long distance to get reasonable grocery prices and selection. You may live in an area where you and your children are a racial or ethnic minority. Exotic foods, different languages being spoken, signs on stores written in a language you don’t understand can all make culture shock a possibility. If you are able, you might consider taking a Spanish course while your spouse is at the Academy. Employment for you may or may not be available, depending on location. If you are stationed close to the border, you may want to consider federal employment for yourself (also as a Border Patrol Agent, a Customs Border Protection Officer, or other federal worker.) Though there can be significant challenges for the spouse of a Border Patrol Agent, it can also be an adventure. And we are working all the time to help you meet the challenges that do exist.

Q: Is my military service creditable for retirement?
A: If you were on active duty in the military and received an honorable discharge, your military service is potentially creditable under FERS (Federal Employee Retirement System) or CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System).

For employees covered by the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), which includes most new applicants for a BPA position, active-duty military service performed AFTER 1956, known as Post-56 military service, is creditable only if a deposit is made. The deposit required is three percent of your military earnings plus accrued interest. The amount of the buyback depends on how soon you begin repayment. Interest does not start to accrue until three years after your retirement coverage begins. Payment can be made in lump sum or over a period of time; minimum individual payment is $25. The full deposit must be made while you are an employee (before you retire). If you are retired military and you become an employee, you may wish to consult a retirement counselor to see if beneficial to combine your military retirement pay with your Federal Retirement pay rather than retaining the separate pensions. Those covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) PRIOR to October 1, 1982 may receive credit for military service WITHOUT making a deposit. However, if you will be eligible for Social Security at age 62, or retirement, whichever is later, your retirement annuity will be reduced by eliminating all credit for post-1956 active duty military service UNLESS you make a deposit. Those who became subject to Civil Service Retirement System deductions AFTER October 1, 1982 will ONLY receive credit for active-duty military service IF Post-56 deposit is made.

For additional information on whether your military service is creditable towards federal retirement, how much you will have to pay back and procedures to make a military deposit, please visit the following websites.

( U.S. Department of Defense )
( Explanation of Benefits for New Employees )
( U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Service Credit Deposits and Refunds )

Forms for application to make deposits or re-deposits (SF 2803) and estimated earnings during military service (RI 20-97) can be found at the OPM Forms website. ( Office of Pesonnel Management - Forms )

Q: What is the Veterans Education Benefits Program?
A: Veteran employees often take a cut in pay upon their transition from the military to a new-hire federal employee. The monthly education benefit payments they receive are intended to supplement the veteran’s income as they make the transition to a new career.

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers an education benefits program to eligible veterans who are in trainee status in training that comprises a condition of employment. This program provides monthly benefit payments to qualified veterans during the period of time that the veteran is in basic training and while in on-the-job training status (OJT).

Q: If qualified for Veterans Education Benefits, can a trainee receive these benefits while at the Border Patrol Academy and while in on-the-job training status?
A: Yes, the VA has approved the Border Patrol curriculum for education benefits. There is a standard payment for curriculum; however, the amount of payment varies depending on whether the veteran is single/married with/without dependents. To apply for these benefits, eligible veterans must complete VA Form 22-1990 and submit the completed paperwork to:
VA Regional Office
PO Box 8888
Muskogee, OK 74402-8888
This form is available on the Department of Veterans Affairs website. ( U.S. Border Patrol ) The veteran must notify their Sector Coordinator that they have applied for VA education benefits. The Sector Coordinator will submit the Enrollment Certification form (VA Form 22-1999) and Training agreement to the VA. Upon completion of the training, the Sector certifies that veteran has successfully completed the training. If the veteran does not successfully complete the training, they will need to refund the education benefits payments.

               Are you ready to apply? Apply now! ( Border Patrol Agent Online Application )

Skip To See Also for this Page

How to
Use the Website

Featured RSS Links
What's New Contacts Ports Questions/Complaints Forms Sitemap EEO/DCR | FOIA | Privacy Statement | Get Plugins | En Español
Department of  
Homeland Security  
  Inquiries (877) CBP-5511   |   International Callers (703) 526-4200   |   TTD (866) 880-6582