General Attorney (Associate Legal Advisor)

Posted Feb 01
Full Time
Washington, District Of Columbia


ICE OPLA Immigration Law and Practice Division (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.

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 the Department of Homeland Security'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 (DOJ).

OPLA is the largest legal program in DHS, employing over 1,200 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 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 Civilian Board of Contract Appeals. OPLA attorneys support DOJ 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. It 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 closing date 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.
  • Relocation expenses will not be reimbursed in connection with this position.
  • Occasional travel may be required, and you may be required to attend meetings and trainings at OPLA Headquarters and elsewhere in National Capital Region.


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,
  • Appellate Advocacy, and/or
  • Protection law (refugee status, asylum, statutory withholding of removal, and the regulations implementing U.S. obligations under Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture).

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.


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

Local Remote Work: This position is located at OPLA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and it has been approved for local remote work. Selectees may be eligible for local remote work; remote work, however, is not an employee right or entitlement, and approval is at the discretion of OPLA management based on the specific needs of the organization, and in accordance with agency policy. If a selectee is approved for local remote work, the selectee's alternative worksite (i.e., residence, approved telework center, or another approved location) must be within a 50-mile radius of the Agency worksite.

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 level. 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, and administrative approval. Further, promotion from the GS-14 level to the GS-15 level is subject to OPLA's internal guidance.

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

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 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.

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