US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Mobile Nav Button


Basic Qualifications and Medical Requirements for Border Patrol Agents

Basic Qualifications

  1. You must be a United States citizen.
  2. You must possess a valid automobile driver's license.
  3. You must take and pass the CBP Border Patrol entrance examination. The CBP Border Patrol entrance examination is a three-part test that covers logical reasoning skill; the Spanish language or, if you don't speak Spanish, an artificial language test that predicts your ability to learn Spanish; and an assessment of job-related experiences and achievements.
  4. Your résumé must completely and specifically describe your job duties that you want considered in the determination. All transcripts, grade-point calculations, and other documentation must be submitted to the CBP Minneapolis Hiring Center. Failure to provide this documentation will result in your ineligibility for the position.
  5. You must pass a urine drug test: tentative selectees for this position will be required to submit to a urine drug screen for illegal substances prior to appointment. This position is designated for testing for illegal drug use; after hiring, incumbents are subject to random testing. In addition to drug screening, candidates must meet specific medical and physical requirements.
  6. You must be younger than 37 at the time of selection. The limitation may be waived for applicants who are currently in Federal civilian law enforcement positions covered under the special retirement provisions of Public Law 100-238 or who have been in such positions in the past.
  7. You must appear before an oral interview panel and demonstrate that you possess the abilities and other characteristics important to Border Patrol Agent positions. Among these are interpersonal skills, judgment, and problem-solving abilities.


To qualify at the GL-5 level, you must have a substantial background of experience (paid, voluntary, full- or part-time) that demonstrates the ability to take charge, make decisions, and maintain composure in stressful situations; your experience must demonstrate an ability to maintain interpersonal relationships with coworkers and the public and a propensity to learn law enforcement regulations, methods and techniques both on the job and through formal instruction. The work experience does not have to be law enforcement related. (You must describe all work experience in your application for employment in order to gain proper consideration.)


If you do not have the work experience described above, a four-year college degree can substitute for and is fully qualifying for the GL-5 level. The degree is not required to be recent or in any particular field.


You may qualify through a combination of education and work experience (if you have not completed your degree). Each year of full-time semester or quarter units equates to three months of general work experience. For example, two (2) years of full-time college education would equate to six (6) months of experience. If this were combined with an additional six (6) months of generalized work experience, you could qualify for the GL-5 position.


To qualify at the GL-7 level, applicants must have one year of law enforcement experience that demonstrates the ability to do all of the following:

  1. Make arrests and exercise sound judgment in the use of firearms;
  2. Deal effectively with individuals or groups of persons in a courteous, tactful manner in connection with law enforcement matters;
  3. Analyze information rapidly and make prompt decisions or take prompt and appropriate law enforcement action in light of applicable laws, court decisions, and sound law enforcement matters; and
  4. Develop and maintain contact with a network of informants.

You must meet all four items listed in order to qualify at the GL-7 grade level based on experience. All four of these items must be addressed in your application.


If you have one (1) full year of graduate education in law or a field related to law enforcement (e.g. Criminal Justice, Police Science), you can qualify for the GL-7.


Superior Academic Achievement (SAA): to qualify for the GL-7 under the SAA provision, you must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year college/university. SAA is based on (1) grade point average (GPA of 3.0 or higher out of a possible 4.0 for all completed undergraduate courses or courses completed in the last two years of undergraduate study; or a GPA of 3.5 or higher out of a possible 4.0 for all courses in the major field of study or in required courses in the major field completed in the last two years of undergraduate study; (2) class standing (applicants must be in the upper third of their graduating class in their college, university, or major subdivision; or (3) honor society membership (applicants must have been a member of a national scholastic honor society other than freshman honor societies).


To qualify at the GL-9 level, applicants must have one year of law enforcement experience that demonstrates the ability to do all of the following:

  1. Develop cases and conduct interviews or interrogations, apprehensions, and arrests in order to further the process or case development;
  2. Prepare cases and appear as a professional witness in court;
  3. Exercise sound judgment in the use of firearms and conduct training, qualification exercises, or courses in the proper care and use of firearms;
  4. Deal effectively with individuals or groups of persons in a courteous and tactful manner in their detention, control, or interrogation, and work to promote effective community-outreach programs and public relations;
  5. Analyze and disseminate intelligence information and data rapidly and apply practical knowledge of the laws, concepts, operational practices, and law enforcement methods and techniques in order to independently perform duties typically encountered in law enforcement;
  6. Develop and maintain contact with a network of informants, social and political organizations, state and local enforcement agencies, and private citizens to ensure continuity of enforcement work and to carry out enforcement responsibilities;
  7. Use a variety of law enforcement databases and information retrieval systems, such as TECS, NCIC, and NEXUS;
  8. Prepare reports and write other documents that deal with the collection, protection, and recording of evidence; and the presentation of testimony; and retain informational materials concerning illegal activities and practices encountered during daily activities.

Education may not be used to qualify for the GL-9 level.


Medical Requirements

The standard requires that the person be medically and physically capable of performing the essential job functions and duties of the position safely and efficiently without aggravating existing health problems or endangering national security or the health and safety of the individual or others. The individual must be free of any impairment(s) and free of any existing health problem(s) that would be aggravated in response to the work environment or that would affect the safe and efficient performance of the position's duties.

Specific Requirements


  • Distant vision acuity - must be equal to or better than 20/100 in each eye without correction, i.e., without eye glasses or contact lenses
  • Corrected distance vision must be 20/20
  • Monocular vision is generally disqualifying
  • Peripheral vision must be normal
  • Depth perception must be equal to or better than 70 seconds of arc
  • Color vision - must demonstrate normal color vision, without the use of an x-chromatic lens or any other artificial device
  • Refractive surgery/LASIK - free from significant untoward side effects of surgery, e.g., glare, contrast sensitivity


  • Must have hearing in both ears
  • In the frequency range of 500-2000 Hz, the deficit should not exceed 30 decibels in either ear
  • At 3000 Hz, the deficit should not exceed 40 decibels in either ear
  • Standards must be met without the use of a hearing aid during testing


After tentative selection, candidates must undergo a pre-employment medical examination and be found to be medically qualified to perform the position's full range of duties safely and efficiently. Any disease or condition that may potentially interfere with the safe and efficient performance of the job's duties or training may constitute grounds for medical disqualification. Individualized assessments of each person's medical history, current condition, and medical qualifications will be made on a case-by-case basis. Final consideration and medical determination may require additional information and/or testing. If medical information is recommended beyond that provided by the pre-placement examination, it is provided at the expense of the tentative selectee.

Conditions of Employment

You must be willing to:

  1. Undergo an extensive background investigation.
  2. Meet with a Border Patrol oral interview panel and successfully pass the oral examination.
  3. Accept appointments at any location on the southwest border of the United States.
  4. Work rotating shifts, including many at night.
  5. Work long and irregular hours, including weekends and holidays.
  6. Work alone.
  7. Learn the Spanish language.
  8. Adhere to grooming and dress standards.
  9. Carry, maintain, and use a firearm.
  10. Work under hazardous conditions such as inclement weather, rough terrain, heights, moving trains, high-speed chases, and armed encounters.
  11. Operate a variety of motor vehicles.
  12. Submit to a physical examination, fitness testing, and drug testing.
  13. Fly as a passenger/observer in various types of aircraft.
  14. Maintain composure and self-control under extremely stressful conditions.
  15. Bear initial travel and uniform costs (a $500 uniform allowance is provided after entrance on duty).
  16. Undergo intensive physical and academic training, which includes a 12-week study of study at the CBP Border Patrol Academy, and subsequent training throughout the year.
  17. Work on operational details away from home for extended periods of 35 days or more.


Reasonable Accommodation: Reasonable accommodations will be made for applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodations will be made for any part of the hiring process, please notify the servicing personnel office. The decision on granting reasonable accommodation will be rendered on a case-by-case basis.