How to Become a Cop with a Green Card

The regulations in your state and the department in which you're interested will determine whether you can apply for a police officer job as a permanent resident. Some police departments allow this, but others restrict the position to U.S. citizens. Because regulations vary, it's best to contact the department where you would like to work for specific information.

Eligibility for Non-Citizens

    Some police departments allow foreign citizens to become police officers if they can show proof of permanent residency. These include some police departments in the states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. Some of these states have further restrictions. For instance, you might be required to have applied for citizenship prior to applying for the job, or you might be expected to obtain citizenship within three years of your hire date.

General Requirements

    The requirements for becoming a police officer are similar in most departments. Generally, you must be 21 years of age or older, be in good physical condition, have no felony or misdemeanor convictions, be of good character and have some college education. The education requirement varies by department. Some departments require applicants to have a high school or GED diploma, some require 30 or more college credit hours and others require a bachelor's degree.

Application Process

    The hiring process begins after you submit an application and continues with a written test and a physical agility test. The order of these tests depends on the department. The comprehensive written exam is designed to determine whether you have the skills necessary for police work, such as analytical and logical thinking, problem-solving, reading comprehension and written communication. The physical test checks for your muscle strength and muscle and cardiovascular endurance. If you pass both tests, you will be invited to interview with officers from different areas of the department. If you are selected to continue after the interview, the department will perform a background check to make sure you are suitable for the position.


    Applicants who pass the background check will have to pass more tests. They include a polygraph test, a psychological evaluation and a medical examination. The psychological exam includes written tests and an interview with a psychologist to make sure you have no issues that would interfere with the job. The medical exam is to ensure that you are in good shape to handle the work. If you pass all three tests, the department will schedule you for training at the police academy. Recruits who complete training will be placed on a list of eligible candidates until a job opens at the department.

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