||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
The role of Immigration officers are to ensure that immigration legislation is enforced. This can cover the rules of entry for Visa (document) applicants, foreign nationals or those seeking asylum at the border, detecting and apprehending those that have breached the border and removing them, or pursuing those in breach of immigration and criminal laws.
United Kingdom 
United Kingdom immigration officers were previously employees of the UK Border Agency, and now work for the Home Office and are appointed by the Home Secretary, whose powers are conferred by the Immigration Act 1971 and who also act in accordance with Immigration Rules. The Immigration Rules are statutory instruments laid down by Parliament under Section 3(2) of the 1971 Act which govern the regulation of entry into the United Kingdom. The Rules are amended by Primary Legislation when required and provide a framework to ensure that those that come to, or remain in the UK, do so legally, and those that do not can be removed. Immigration officers' powers over citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and their family members are currently governed by the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006.
Immigration officers have the power of arrest and detention conferred on them by the Immigration Act 1971, when both at ports and inland. In practice, port immigration officers exercise powers under Schedule 2 of the Immigration Act 1971 and inland immigration Officers under S28A-H of the Immigration Act 1971 and paragraph 17 of Schedule 2. This has led to separate training for port and inland officers, where port officers are not trained in Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). "Designated Immigration Officers" are port immigration officers who have been trained in detention under PACE.
Before the UKBA was established, British immigration officers were not uniformed, but now wear a uniform with rank insignia.
At ports 
An immigration officer at a port has the power to detain any person without arrest who is not a British citizen to investigate whether they qualify for entry to the United Kingdom under Schedule 2 of the Immigration Act 1971. Schedule 2 also gives an immigration officer the power to arrest without warrant anyone who is liable to detention.
The passing of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act created a provision for the Secretary of State to designate individuals as a "general customs official". Immigration Officers who have received the appropriate training are designated as general customs officials and can carry out customs functions in additions to their immigration ones. The passing of the act supersedes the process where the Customs Commissioners would designate officers as customs officials.
Designated Immigration Officers (DIOs) are designated by the Home Secretary, and only if they are fit and proper for the purpose, and suitably trained. Under Section 2 of the UK Borders Act, DIOs can detain any person without arrest in a port in England, Wales or Northern Ireland if they think that the individual may be liable to arrest by a constable for any offence under Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 or Article 26(1), (2) or (3) of the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, or if there is a warrant for their arrest. They can be searched and detained using reasonable force for up to three hours, and can be pursued if they leave the port. If a DIO detains a person, they must arrange for a constable to attend as soon as is reasonably practicable. It is an offence to abscond, assault or obstruct a DIO exercising their powers under this section.
However, Immigration Officers also have far broader powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 to examine, question, and search anyone in order to establish whether or not they appear to be or have been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. A person may be detained under Schedule 7 for up to 9 hours. The Immigration Officer need not have reasonable suspicion that the detainee has in fact been involved in terrorism. The detainee has a duty to provide the Immigration Officer with all information requested and a failure to do so constitutes an offence, punishable by 3 months imprisonment and a fine.
Under Section 28A of the Immigration Act 1971, Immigration Officers have wide-ranging arrest powers. They can arrest:
- non-British citizens if they are in the country illegally, or have remained beyond the conditions imposed on them
- non-British citizens if, be means of deception, they obtain, or seek to obtain, entry or permission to remain in the UK.
- any person who assists a breach of EU Immigration Law by a non-EU national.
- any person who assists a breach asylum seekers for gain.
- any person who assists a facilitate a breach of a deportation order in force against an individual who is a citizen of the European Union.
- any person who obstructs an Immigration Officer or other person lawfully acting in the execution of the 1971 Act.
- any person who has an immigration stamp or replica immigration stamp in their possession.
- any person who
- alters a registration card with intent to deceive or to enable another to deceive,
- has a false or altered registration card in his possession without reasonable excuse,
- uses or attempts to use a false registration card for a purpose for which a registration card is issued,
- uses or attempts to use an altered registration card with intent to deceive,
- makes or possess an article designed to be used in making a false registration card,
- makes or possess an article designed to be used in altering a registration card with intent to deceive or to enable another to deceive.
A specially-trained Immigration Officer working in a Criminal Investigation Team also has the power to arrest without warrant any person that he has reasonable suspicion of committing criminal offences of obtaining or seeking to obtain leave to remain by deception, assisting unlawful immigration to a member state, helping an asylum seeker to enter the UK, and assisting entry to UK of anyone in breach of a deportation or exclusion order; and also several non-immigration criminal offences such as conspiracy to defraud, bigamy, perjury, theft, obtaining services by deception, fraud, forgery and counterfeiting, trafficking for sexual exploitation, possessing and making false identity documents.
An Immigration Officer can enter and search a premises owned or occupied by someone arrested for an offence without warrant for nationality documents.
At all times, an Immigration Officer may arrest any person that he has a reasonable suspicion of committing an indictable offence using the "any person powers" (also known as citizen's arrest) contained in Section 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
Hong Kong 
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See also 
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (May 2010)|
- Immigration Act 1971(c. 77)
- Para 17, Schedule 2, Immigration Act 1971(c. 77)
- Section 2, UK Borders Act 2007 (c. 30)
- Ibid. Schedule 7, para. 6(4)
- Ibid. Schedule 7, para 2(4)
- Ibid. Schedule 7, para 5(a) and para 18(2)(c)
- Sections 24A, 25, 25A, 25B Immigration Act 1971(c. 77)
- Section 14, Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004 (c. 19)
- Section 44, UK Borders Act 2007 (c. 30)
- Section 24A, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 c. 60)