Jobs in the justice system - Her Majesty's Prison Service - Eligibility

In addition to any entry qualifications and competencies advertised for certain jobs, all applicants for any post within the Prison Service must meet the following minimum eligibility requirements:


The Civil Service nationality rules apply to all posts in the Prison Service. In order to be eligible for employment an applicant must be one of the following:

  • A United Kingdom national
  • A Republic of Ireland national
  • A commonwealth citizen
  • A British Protected person
  • A national of the European Economic Area (EEA) (see below)
  • A Swiss national
  • A Turkish national whom has been lawfully employed in the UK for four years in any job, or lawfully employed for three years in a job within the same 'occupation' as the post they wish to take up within the Civil Service
  • Non-EEA nationals who are family members of an EEA, Swiss or qualifying Turkish national* from another member state (non-UK) who has moved to the UK for an approved purpose

The category of family members are:

  • The EEA national's spouse (this does not normally include the spouse of a UK national
  • A descendant of an EEA national or the spouse who is under 21 years of age
  • A dependant relative in the ascending line of the EEA national or the spouse

*A qualifying family member of a Turkish national must have been living in the United Kingdom with the qualifying Turkish national. There are also special rules which entitle the children of the qualifying Turkish national who have completed a course of vocational training in the United Kingdom to take up jobs in the Civil Service. There is no length of residence requirement for this right, but either the Turkish national or the other parent of the child must have been legally employed in the United Kingdom for at least three years.

** Rules for Swiss and Turkish nationals do not make reference to civil partners.

People with any other nationality cannot be employed in the Service unless they fall within the terms of the Alien's Employment Act 1955.

List of European Economic Area (EEA) Member States:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria****, Cyprus***, Czech Republic***, Denmark, Estonia***, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary***, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia***, Liechtenstein*, Lithuania***, Luxembourg, Malta***, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland***, Portugal, Romania****, Slovakia***, Slovenia***, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland** and the United Kingdom.

** An international treaty means that from 1 June 2002 Swiss nationals have a similar right to live in the UK as EEA nationals.

*** Non-exempt workers from these member states (except Malta & Cyprus), generally have to apply to the Home Office Workers Registration Scheme for a registration certificate within the first month of their employment in order to work legally in the United Kingdom.

**** Additional restrictions on the entitlement of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals to enter and work in the United Kingdom apply. Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are only eligible to work in the Civil Service if the employing department or agency obtains prior approval for the employment in accordance with the arrangements set out in the Worker Authorisation Scheme. Bulgarian and Romanian nationals who are exempt from the Worker Authorisation Scheme are free to take up employment.


In order to be employed within the Prison Service you must be free from immigration control and have no time restrictions on your stay in the UK. For some specialist posts or where the field of applicants is likely to be very small the Prison Service may consider a commonwealth citizen who has time restrictions on their stay, however this information will be included upon the advert and any appointment terminated at the end of the period of their permitted stay in the UK.

Candidates for Prison Officer posts or those applying under the Intensive Development Scheme must have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.


For most posts within the Prison Service there is no residency requirement. However, some posts do require a national security vetting level and for these posts applicants should normally have been resident in the United Kingdom for three years prior to their application.

In certain circumstances it may be possible to obtain the necessary security clearance for applicants who do not meet the residency requirements. However, this would need to be considered on an individual basis.

Membership of groups or organisations considered to be racist

You must not be a member of a group or organisation that the Prison Service considers to have racist philosophy, aims, principles or policies.


You must not be an undischarged bankrupt.

Criminal Records Bureau

If the post applied for involves contact with children under the age of 18, appointment will be subject to an enhanced disclosure being obtained from the Criminal Records Bureau. This is a check to ensure you are a suitable person to work with children.

Prison Officer minimum eligibility requirements

In addition to normal eligibility requirements for entry to the Prison Service all prison officer applicants  are required to meet additional eligibility requirements.


HM Prison Service


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