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International Operations


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Agents walking toward the Mexico border
Agents at conference table
Police with bagged evidence

HSI’s International Operations Division is the Department of Homeland Security’s largest investigative presence overseas. Division personnel serve as liaisons to governments and law enforcement agencies across the globe and work side-by-side with foreign law enforcement on HSI investigations overseas.

The division’s attachés have a variety of duties, including relationship building and providing assistance on active investigations and repatriation efforts. Attaché offices have a unique dual reporting structure. They report to HSI leadership, but are also responsible to U.S. ambassadors.

The mission of International Operations is threefold. It supports domestic operations by coordinating investigations with foreign counterparts; disrupts criminal efforts to smuggle people and materials into the United States; and builds international partnerships through outreach and training.

International Operations consists of International Operations East, International Operations West and International Programs.

International Operations East

International Operations East is responsible for operations in the Eastern Hemisphere, including:

  • HSI operations and activities in Europe;
  • HSI operations and activities in the Middle East and Africa;
  • HSI operations and activities in Asia and the Pacific;
  • HSI representation at U.S. Africa Command;
  • HSI representation at U.S. Central Command;
  • HSI representation at U.S. European Command; and
  • HSI representation at U.S. Pacific Command (including Joint Interagency Taskforce – West).

International Operations West

International Operations West is responsible for operations in the Western Hemisphere, including:

  • HSI operations and activities in Mexico and Canada;
  • HSI operations and activities in Central America, South America and the Caribbean;
  • HSI representation at U.S. Special Operations Command;
  • HSI representation at Northern Command; and
  • HSI representation at U.S. Southern Command (including Joint Interagency Taskforce – South).

International Programs

International Programs is responsible for a variety of activities and programs, including:

Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program (BITMAP) is an HSI-led initiative that fills biometric databases with data collected from special interest aliens, violent criminals, fugitives and confirmed or suspected terrorists encountered within illicit pathways. This data helps HSI form strategic pictures of the trends, networks and individuals connected with these pathways.

Cultural Property, Arts, and Antiquities Investigations and Repatriations Program oversees investigations into the trafficking of cultural property from around the world. It also manages the return of such items to their rightful owners. The program trains special agents on carrying out cultural property investigations before these agents partner with fellow law enforcement agencies, private institutions and foreign governments. Federal law gives HSI the authority to take a leading role in criminal investigations that involve the movement of stolen or looted cultural property.  Visit the Cultural Property, Arts, and Antiquities Investigations and Repatriations Program for more information.

External Liaisons oversee HSI’s commitment to critical federal partners operating internationally, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Justice and Interpol.

International Agreements oversee formal relationships between HSI and its foreign partners. The section works with HSI attachés, ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor and other federal partners to forge international agreements.

International Visitors Program reviews international visitors to ICE facilities and oversees the travel of foreign officials sponsored by ICE. The program also maintains contact with important foreign counterparts. Additionally, the program manages HSI’s Dulles Access Badge Program, which oversees visitor entry to Washington Dulles International Airport and manages VIP arrivals for foreign officials.

International Operations works with the Department of Homeland Security and other U.S. agencies to vet participants in International Visitors Program events nationwide. International Operations also provides support for visitor-related events at HSI headquarters.

Personnel Recovery Unit helps employees and their families prepare for isolating incidents overseas. The unit also assists HSI attaché offices in the recovery of personnel.

Transnational Criminal Investigative Units are HSI-led investigative units with members from foreign law enforcement agencies. The units promote teamwork between HSI and host governments.

Visa Security Program is responsible for the operational requirements of Section 428 of the Homeland Security Act. Special agents in the program deploy to high-risk embassies to give their expertise to Department of State consular officers. The program also serves as a counterterrorism tool for HSI by screening visa applicants and recommending visa refusal/revocation. Visit the Visa Security Program page for more information.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 01/03/2018