Closing Date: 16th January, 2025


Organizational Location: This announcement will be used to fill multiple vacancies at Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) Field Locations. Although this announcement is advertised for multiple locations, it is not intended to convey that vacancies will be filled at all locations.

While this position is telework eligible, it is not eligible for remote reporting.

OPLA is the largest legal program in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), employing over 1,500 attorneys nationwide. In addition to Headquarters in Washington, D.C., there are 25 OPLA Field Locations in more than 60 cities throughout the United States. Pursuant to statute, OPLA serves as the exclusive representative of DHS in removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review litigating cases involving criminal noncitizens, terrorists, human rights violators, and other priority noncitizens. OPLA also provides a full range of legal services to all ICE programs and offices.

OPLA attorneys provide legal advice and prudential counsel to ICE personnel on their law enforcement authorities, legal liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, ethics, and a range of administrative law issues, such as contract, fiscal and employment law. OPLA attorneys represent the agency before the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Contract Board of Appeals. OPLA attorneys support the Department of Justice in the prosecution of ICE cases and in the defense of civil cases against ICE.

OPLA fosters an environment in which all voices are heard and values the unique perspectives and opinions that inhere among a talented, diverse, and inclusive workforce. Comprising a far more diverse workforce than its private sector counterparts, OPLA is proud to strive to further diversify the experiences, perspectives, and characteristics of its workforce and is committed to celebrating our differences and embracing practices that foster a fair, safe, and inclusive workplace by promoting equitable access to opportunities.

The selected attorney will immediately be given significant responsibilities and will be expected to craft legally supportable policies to address the needs of agency operational components. The attorney will be expected to routinely provide timely legal opinions to ICE officers and agents, management, and leadership within OPLA, ICE, and the DHS's Office of the General Counsel Headquarters. The selected attorney will be required to assess litigation risk and provide litigation support to the Department of Justice.

As a General Attorney, you will perform the following duties at the full performance level:
  • Represent the United States Government in removal proceedings before immigration judges, frequently involving applicants for asylum or for other forms of relief under immigration laws;
  • Provide expert legal counsel in the interpretation of highly complex immigration and customs laws including comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of statutory, regulatory and case authorities;
  • Prepare cases for litigation by conducting legal research; prepare pleadings, motions, briefs, stipulations, affidavits, and other legal documents;
  • Prepare witnesses for litigation; conduct direct examination and cross­ examination; present oral arguments advancing ICE's legal position; negotiate the disposition of cases with opposing counsel; and advise the Chief Counsel and/or Deputy Chief Counsel on cases potentially warranting deferred action or other exercise of prosecutorial discretion;
  • Construct litigation reports for United States Attorney's Offices on civil matters pending in the federal courts involving ICE, and serve as liaison between Department of Justice's Office of Immigration Litigation and the local Enforcement and Removal Field Office on immigration matters pending in the Circuit Courts of Appeals;
  • Provide legal advice and support to the other ICE components and litigation support to United States Attorney's Offices in immigration and/or customs matters. The position also involves appellate advocacy before the Board of Immigration Appeals, including the preparation of briefs and other pleadings.

Conditions of Employment:
  • You must successfully pass a background investigation and drug screen for federal employment.
  • If you are a male born after 12/31/59, you must certify registration with the Selective Service.
  • You must have relevant experience (see How You Will Be Evaluated and Qualifications tabs).
  • You must meet all requirements by the closing date of the announcement.
  • You may be required to serve a two-year trial period, if the requirement has not been met.
  • You must be an active member in good standing of the bar of a U.S. state, territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Unless otherwise noted, you must meet all qualification and eligibility requirements by 11:59 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time on 01/16/2025. Please note that qualification claims will be subject to verification.

Applicants should possess an ability to efficiently produce quality legal analyses of complex and novel issues, exercise sound legal judgment, be detail oriented, prioritize competing assignments, and work effectively independently, as part of a team, and across work units. Applicants should have a strong interest in supporting and providing stellar client services to diverse program offices including law enforcement officers, policymakers, attorneys, and agency senior leadership, and must be able to tailor communications to a particular audience. Applicants should be able to demonstrate an ability to take initiative and work in a reliable, decisive, and professional manner. Applicants should possess the following characteristics and competencies: integrity, sound professional judgment, organizational skills, decisiveness, initiative, stellar client services, the ability to function independently and cooperatively, and superior written and oral advocacy skills.

To qualify for the GS-11: You must be a graduate from an accredited law school and be an active member in good standing.

To qualify for the GS-12: You must be a graduate from an accredited law school, be an active member in good standing and have 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-11 grade level.

To qualify for the GS-13: You must be a graduate from an accredited law school, be an active member in good standing and have 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-12 grade level.

To qualify for the GS-14: You must be a graduate from an accredited law school, be an active member in good standing and have 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-13 grade level.

Examples of specialized experience include:
  • Skills in litigating cases before courts and must demonstrate proficiency in objecting to the admission of excludable evidence during trial;
  • Trial advocacy skills, including proficiency in the development of case strategies, direct examination and cross-examination of witnesses, and oral argument;
  • Experience involving contact with government witnesses, immigration judges, and opposing counsel in trying cases before an immigration court;
  • Reviewing memoranda of understanding, applications for search and/or arrest warrants, personal assistance agreements, requests for certification and re­certification of undercover operations, affidavits in support of wire-taps, and related matters of investigatory concern to ICE officers and agents;
  • Outstanding written, oral advocacy and judgment skills; proficient organizational, communication and interpersonal relationship skills and the ability to function independently and as part of a team.

Bar Membership: You must be an active member in good standing of the bar of a U.S. state, territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Current or Former Political Appointees: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) must authorize employment offers made to current or former political appointees. If you are currently, or have been within the last 5 years, a political Schedule A, Schedule C, Non-career SES or Presidential Appointee employee in the Executive Branch, you must disclose this information to the Human Resources Office.

The Department of Homeland Security encourages persons with disabilities to apply, to include persons with intellectual, severe physical or psychiatric disabilities, as defined by 5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u), and/or Disabled Veterans with a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more as defined by 5 C.F.R. 315.707. Veterans, Peace Corps/VISTA volunteers, and persons with disabilities possess a wealth of unique talents, experiences, and competencies that can be invaluable to the DHS mission. If you are a member of one of these groups, you may not have to compete with the public for federal jobs.

Applicants must be a graduate of an American Bar Association accredited law school with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Please see Required Documents for more information.

A student loan repayment incentive may be available, in which case a service agreeme