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#1 Altair

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 06:08 PM

Has anyone any knowledge of how this can be done?

From what i've read over the years it's a very very complicated process as the US Police Departments won't accept an overseas transfer as you have to be a US citizen and they won't give out work permits either.

The way I read it is that you have to do this type of process:

1 - Find a company who will sponsor you to work over in the US i.e. work permit
2 - Work for said company for 5 years then qualify for naturalisation i.e. citizenship
3 - Apply for naturalisation and get through the process for that
4 - Then apply for a police job.

So it would take 5 years of a new career just to pursue the actual career of being a cop in the US.

Yet over the years i've heard of ex-pats being cops in the US!

What's the secret? Don't say marriage! haha

#2 GeorgeH

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 03:57 AM

Hi Altair:

I am a U.S. lawyer. I live and work in the state of Michigan. This is a topic that I can help you with.

Hiring practices vary from department to department. Most require citizenship but not all. For example, the city of Chicago only requires that you are in the country legally. (Remember the U.S. is a nation of immigrants. The most common nationality in the U.S. is German. We have more Irish than Ireland does.)

Federal law enforcement (FBI, DEA, ATF, et cetera) all uniformly require citizenship. To work for an intelligence agency (CIA, NSA, or DIA) you need U.S. citizenship. (The U.S. does not have anything like your MI-5 [Security Service]. Domestic security and intelligence falls on law enforcement.)

The U.S. does allow for general immigration. (That is how my aunt and uncle emigrated from Bury to Detroit.) The way it works is that you apply for a non-tourist visa (U.K. citizens are automatically entitled to a 6 month tourist visa) and then when you get here you then apply for "resident alien" status.

In Michigan all law enforcement agencies require at least 2 years of college, except for two: the city of Detroit and the State of Michigan. Because your secondary education system is different, the way most U.K. ex-pats become cops is that they come over as students, go to college for a couple of years, then get a job. For example, in Michigan we have more the largest Middle Eastern population of any state in the country. So we also have more Middle Eastern police officers than the rest of the country.

Marriage works for getting a student visa converted into a "green card" ("resident alien" status, and the card isn't green but it is uniformily called the green card). Marriage also shortens the time for citizenship from 5 years to 3.

I live on the U.S. border with Canada. There are also a ton of Canadians who work in the U.S. (Hang out at the Detroit Tunnel at shift change, it is virtual gridlock.) So what has also happened is that people from your side of the pond move to Canada (for example Windsor/Essex County) and then get a U.S. job to get a visa et cetera. (For individuals, because of the tax structure, it is more cost effective for a Canadian to work in the United States than for an American to work in Canada.)

Edited by GeorgeH, 08 July 2012 - 04:00 AM.


#3 Dizzydee

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 11:35 PM

I don't know as much as the above poster, however I think something similar to what they said about Chicago also is true with LAPD.

#4 mcdonnell761

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 01:39 AM

Why would you want to live in the US? It's hugely expensive to live over there with housing costs, living costs etc. Health insurance can cost excess of $6000 a year.

#5 firepower

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 08:37 AM

Why would you want to live in the US? It's hugely expensive to live over there with housing costs, living costs etc. Health insurance can cost excess of $6000 a year.


The standard of living is much better. Petrol is two pounds a gallon. California is sunny. Houses are dirt cheap. There are no onerous firearms laws. Fast food is fast. American women love our accent. Criminals get hefty sentences. The police have cooler cars. Sand rails. Need I carry on :)


ATB Mick

#6 mcdonnell761

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 10:58 AM

All excellent points Sir, I stand corrected :biggrin:

#7 GeorgeH

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 12:06 PM

I live in St Clair Shores, Michigan. My home is 2300 sq feet and is valued at 135,000 dollars. Housing in Michigan is less expensive than most places. Health insurance is provided to police oficers as a fringe benefit of employment. Full retirement for a police officer is after 25 years. There are three people in my household and I spend about $150 every two weeks for food.

For a young man there is more opportunity for a law enforcement career in the U.S. For example, in Michigan there are 83 county, 29 township, 3 state, 345 city, 17 college, and 17 "other" police departments. In the U.S., as a whole, there are 650,000 full time law enforcement jobs.

As to weather, Michigan is a midwestern state. On July 4 the temp was 101 (a record). In the winter wind chill can drive the temp to below zero Fahrenheit. The U.S. has nearly every kind of climate possible from artic tundra to near tropical. From vast flatland to mountain ranges. In West Virginia you can mine for gold, in Hawaii you can pick pineapple. You like rain, fog, and gray skys--move to Seattle. You like relentless sun and heat move to Death Valley (where water heaters are used to keep water cool enough to drink.) (You haven't lived until you fry an egg on the dash of your car.)

In general people like the police. The police generally like their command structure. And yes, girls like a British accent.

For, example, in Alaska, you do not have to be a citizen to serve in the state police. You can work out of your home and you are issued your squad car. There is no place on earth where the scenery is more spectacular. The state is physically six times larger than the U.K. It is a state where you have grizzley bear attacks at least three times a year in the state capital and where wolves munch on your pets if you let them. (You watch your dogs and shoot the wolves.)

The U.S. has many faults, but it also has many attributes.

#8 Ben&Jem

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 02:32 PM

Are there any police departments in America that will allow you to apply before moving to the country?

#9 GeorgeH

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 10:27 PM

I don't know. The problem is what do you do if you are hired. What I would do is to become established with an immigrant visa first.

#10 GeorgeH

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 12:22 PM

Shouldn't you first find out if you like the country and want to move?

#11 Altair

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:59 AM

Can I just say a big thank you George for all your advice and also a general thanks for everyone who's participated so far!

Apologies for the delay as i've been away on holiday and have just recently got back!

I would be interested to chat with you George to find out a bit more via personal messenger if that's ok?? I didn't realise that each police department has it's own rules but that does make sense considering how many law enforcement agencies exist in the US compared to here.

Be great to have a chat if you don't mind?

#12 Jonathan-belfast2010

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 09:04 AM

Is there an age limit to join cops in USA?

#13 GeorgeH

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:44 AM

It depends on the department.

In the Federal system, LEO must be appointed by 34.

In the state system, it varies state by state, but usually no.

#14 deggs79

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:37 AM

Hi there Altair,

I have been trying for many months, researching high and low of ways to get in. What I have found this that there are some countys in california that may sponsor a non-citizen. I have heard that being in the Met is counted as good.

In fact I am trying to PM you, but its not giving me permission , can you message me your email address? I would like to tell you my information i know, and ask you a few if ok.



Many thanks! Kate

Has anyone any knowledge of how this can be done?

From what i've read over the years it's a very very complicated process as the US Police Departments won't accept an overseas transfer as you have to be a US citizen and they won't give out work permits either.

The way I read it is that you have to do this type of process:

1 - Find a company who will sponsor you to work over in the US i.e. work permit
2 - Work for said company for 5 years then qualify for naturalisation i.e. citizenship
3 - Apply for naturalisation and get through the process for that
4 - Then apply for a police job.

So it would take 5 years of a new career just to pursue the actual career of being a cop in the US.

Yet over the years i've heard of ex-pats being cops in the US!

What's the secret? Don't say marriage! haha



Hi there Altair,

I have been trying for many months, researching high and low of ways to get in. What I have found this that there are some countys in california that may sponsor a non-citizen. I have heard that being in the Met is counted as good.

In fact I am trying to PM you but its not giving me permission, can you message me your email address? I would like to tell you my information i know, and ask you a few if ok.



Many thanks! Kate

Edited by deggs79, 10 November 2012 - 10:38 AM.


#15 stewie_griffin

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 06:11 PM

There are no 'US Cops' but a wide variety of local forces with vastly different pay scales and levels of professionalism. UK cops would be familiar with the larger metro and county forces, but there are also lots of small forces where training, pay and (consequently) professionalism leave a lot to be desired. I make just over $100,000 (Canadian) p.a. (and right now the Canadian dollar is pretty much the same as the U.S. dollar), you would be hard pressed to make that kind of money in U.S. law-enforcement at P.C. level outside of the larger metro forces where living costs would be correspondingly high.

Speaking as an expat who's seen a few UK cops come and go, the main problems seem to be:
- Leaving a good posting in the UK, then not realising how good you had it until you left.
- Unhappy wives who miss their mums.
- A 'front-line' approach to policing without the CID/ forensic/ admin support.
- A lack of opportunities for happy-clappy/ domestic-violence/ child centered interviewing/ admin/ intelligence/ crime desk type jobs.

To give you an idea of the prospects generally in the US, in our last recruit class we took on someone who was a recruit in the LAPD for a few weeks but then got fired along with their entire class as a result of government cutbacks.

The grass, as they say, isn't always greener.




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