Closing Date: 16th March, 2024


The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) is seeking an energetic and dedicated attorney to serve as an Associate Legal Advisor with the Immigration Law and Practice Division (ILPD) in Washington, D.C.

One or more positions may be filled using this vacancy announcement.

General Schedule locality pay tables may be found under Salaries & Wages.

ICE OPLA ILPD is seeking an attorney for an Associate Legal Advisor position in Washington, D.C., to handle issues relating to the litigation of immigration proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the custody of noncitizens pending completion of removal proceedings, the applicability of criminal and other grounds of removability from the United States, eligibility for relief from removal and certain forms of protection (asylum, statutory withholding of removal, and the regulations implementing U.S. obligations under Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture), OPLA's appellate advocacy and motions practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the interplay between removal proceedings and extradition, and the interpretation and application of the Immigration and Nationality Act and implementing regulations.

ILPD primarily provides legal advice to OPLA Field Legal Operations Headquarters and OPLA field locations; Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO); Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and the ICE Office of Regulatory Affairs and Policy (ORAP). ILPD's work contributes to significant policy decisions integral to ICE's mission. Assignments within ILPD are fast-paced and involve high-profile work. ILPD attorneys advise, counsel, and train ICE officers and agents and other OPLA attorneys on legal authorities, best practices, and agency policies on a wide array of issues, including but not limited to those listed above.

ILPD attorneys work closely with a wide range of ICE program offices, including ERO, HSI, and ORAP. They also work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the General Counsel Headquarters (OGC HQ); the DHS Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans; and other federal agencies and departments.

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, ILPD management, and leadership within OPLA, ICE, and DHS OGC HQ. The selected attorney will be required to assess litigation risk and provide litigation support to the Department of Justice.

OPLA is the largest legal program in DHS, employing over 1,000 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 EOIR, litigating cases involving criminal noncitizens, terrorists, human rights abusers, and other priority removals. OPLA also provides a full range of legal services to all ICE programs and offices.

OPLA provides 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 represents 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 the 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.

Conditions of Employment:
  • You must successfully pass a background investigation and drug test for federal employment.
  • Selective Service registration is required for males born on, or after, December 31, 1959. Those not registered should have an approved exemption on file.
  • 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.
  • Current OPLA attorneys must have completed two years of service with OPLA by the announcement closeout to be considered for this position.
  • You must be an active member in good standing of the bar of a U.S. state, a territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia.

Qualification requirements must be met by the closing date of this announcement. Qualification claims will be subject to verification.

Applicants should be able to efficiently produce quality legal analyses of complex and novel issues, exercise sound legal judgment, prioritize competing assignments, and work effectively independently, as part of a team, and across work units. Applicants should be detail-oriented and 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 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.

In addition, applicants for this position should possess demonstrated expertise in the area of immigration law, and specialized experience in one or more of the following is preferred:
  • Immigration court litigation,
  • Federal court litigation,
  • Administrative law,
  • Criminal law,
  • Protection law (refugee status, asylum, statutory withholding of removal, and the regulations implementing U.S. obligations under Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture), and/or
  • Appellate advocacy.

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

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 five 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 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. To determine your eligibility for non-competitive appointment and to understand the required documentation, click on the links above or contact the Servicing Human Resources Office listed at the bottom of this announcement.

Vaccination: To ensure compliance with existing court orders, the federal government will take no action to implement or enforce the COVID-19 vaccination requirement appearing in Executive Order 14043 on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees. Therefore, the requirement that applicants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 does not apply as of the date of this job opportunity announcement. ICE will request information about the vaccination status of selected applicants to implement other workplace safety protocols, including those related to masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.

  • 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; if such an incentive is available and is authorized, a service agreement will be required.

Additional Information:
E-Verify: DHS uses E-Verify to confirm the eligibility of all newly hired employees to work in the United States. Learn more about E-Verify including your rights and responsibilities.

Bargaining Unit Status: This is a bargaining position. The exclusive representative for this bargaining unit position is the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), with representation provided by AFGE Local 511.

Promotion Potential: This position has promotion potential to the GS-15. When promotion potential is shown, the agency is not making a commitment and is not obligated to provide future promotions to you if you are selected. Future promotions will be dependent on your ability to perform the duties at a higher level, the continuing need for an employee assigned to the higher level, and administrative approval.

Direct Deposit: All federal employees are required to have Federal salary payments made by direct deposit to a financial institution of their choosing.

Veterans' Preference: There is no formal rating system for applying veterans' preference to attorney appointments in the Excepted Service; however, OPLA considers veterans' preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring.

Financial Disclosure: If you are hired, you may be required to complete a Confidential Financial Disclosure Report (OGE Form 450) within 30 days after appointment.

Suitability: If you receive a conditional offer of employment, you must complete an Optional Form 306, Declaration for Federal Employment, and sign and certify the accuracy of all information in your application, prior to entry on duty. False statements on any part of the application may result in withdrawal of offer of employment, dismissal after beginning work, fine, or imprisonment.

Background Investigation: DHS requires every employee to be reliable and trustworthy. To meet these standards, all selected applicants for this position must undergo a background investigation and successfully obtain and maintain a security clearance at the [Top Secret/Secret] level as a condition of placement into this position. This process may include a credit check, a review of financial issues such as delinquency in the payment of debts, child support, and tax obligations, and a review of certain criminal offenses and illegal use or possession of drugs.

Drug Test: Pursuant to Executive Order 12564 and the DHS Drug-Free Workplace Plan, ICE is committed to maintaining a drug-free workplace. All applicants tentatively selected for employment are subject to pre-employment drug testing, and a final offer of employment is contingent upon a negative result.

A career with the U.S. government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding. Learn more about federal benefits.

Review our benefits

Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.

How You Will Be Evaluated
  • You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.
  • You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.
  • All information and documents submitted as set forth in the Required Documents section will be reviewed to ensure you meet the minimum qualification requirements.
  • Qualified candidates will be rated by comparing each candidate's qualifications to the skills and experience pertinent to the position to be filled. Experience, education, training, awards, and performance will be considered. An applicant need not have specific knowledge and experience regarding each item listed in the Qualifications section to qualify for the position.

National Service Experience (i.e., volunteer experience): Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional, philanthropic, religious, spiritual, community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Required Documents:
You must include all required documentation, as set forth below, with your application package before the closing date. No extensions will be granted. Failure to provide all the required information as listed in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect your overall rating.

Cover Letter: Your cover letter must discuss your interest in the position; your pertinent knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience; and your personal characteristics and competencies that qualify you for the position as detailed in the Duties and Qualifications sections of this announcement. Your cover letter must also include your full name; home address; home or work e-mail address(es); phone number(s) where we may contact you (e.g., mobile, work, or home); name of law school, year of graduation, and year admitted to the bar.

Résumé: Your résumé must include announcement number (DE-11865448-23-LP), education, work experience, training, awards, and work experience. For each work experience listed, please include your job title, duties, employer's name, employer's telephone number, employer's address, and starting and ending dates in "MM/YY" form. Please indicate whether we may contact your current supervisor. Please limit your résumé to five pages; if more than five pages are submitted, only the first five pages will be reviewed to determine your eligibility/qualifications. For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions about the Five-Page Résumé Limit.

Writing Sample: A writing sample demonstrating your legal analytical abilities must be submitted as part of your application package, for which you must be the principal author. It should not exceed ten double-spaced pages.

Transcript: If you have practiced law for fewer than five years, you must submit a copy of your law school transcript. Your transcript must include your grade-point average or class ranking, where available. If you have practiced law for five years or more, no transcript is required.

Bar Membership/Certificate of Good Standing: Submit a copy of your bar card, certificate of good standing, or other documentary evidence to prove that you are an active member in good standing of the bar of a U.S. state, a territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia.

If you are a current or former federal employee: Submit a copy of your most recent SF-50 that provides, at a minimum, the effective date; name; grade; step; salary; position occupied; and tenure. Do not submit SF-50 for performance awards since these SF-50s do not provide the information needed to verify your eligibility.

If you are a current or former political Schedule A, Schedule C, Non-career SES or Presidential Appointee employee: Submit a copy of your applicable SF-50, along with a statement that provides the following information about your most recent political appointment: position title, type of appointment (Schedule A, Schedule C, Non-career SES, or Presidential Appointee), agency, and beginning and ending dates of appointment.

Veterans Preference Documentation (if applicable): You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty," is preferable. If claiming 10-point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15), "Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference." If applying based on eligibility under the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act, you must submit certification from the Armed Forces that you will be discharged or released from active duty within 120 days from the date on the certification. This must indicate your dates of service, your rank, and confirm that you will be separated under honorable conditions. View more veterans' information.

You may be asked to provide a copy of your recent performance appraisal and/or incentive awards.

How to Apply:
To apply for this position, you must complete the Occupational Questionnaire and submit the required documentation outlined under the REQUIRED DOCUMENTS section below.

The complete initial Application must be submitted by 11:59 PM (EST) on 03/16/2024 to receive consideration.

To begin the process, click the Apply Online button to create an account or log into your existing USAJOBS account. Follow the prompts to complete the occupational questionnaire. Please ensure you click the Submit My Answers button at the end of the process. It is your responsibility to ensure your responses and appropriate documentation is submitted prior to the closing date.

Note: To check the status of your application or return to a previous or incomplete application, log into your USAJOBS account, select Application Status, and click on the more information link under the application status for this position.

If you do not provide a valid email address, you may not be notified of the outcome of your application.

Applications and supporting documentation will not be accepted by mail or email. If you need further assistance, please contact the OPLA representative listed on this announcement.

Kindly refer to the following link for a detailed description of the job -