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Border Patrol: Acronyms and Terms for Applicants to Know

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The world of law enforcement is certainly full of codes and acronyms. The Customs and Border Patrol is no different. There are many definitions for all-capital letter words that if you are planning to apply with the CBP it’s going to be very easy to get lost in the jargon if you don't acquaint yourself with them beforehand. In this mini-glossary, we will give you the more important acronyms and terms that you need to be acquainted with when applying for a job with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. 

Announcement. This refers to a job posting for a vacancy in government. When you read of a vacancy announcement, this means that the agency is accepting applications for a particular job. 

Agriculture Specialists. Their main task is to curtail the spread of harmful pests and plant and animal diseases that may harm America’s farms and food supply. They also avert bio- and agro-terrorism.

AIA. Acronym for Air Interdiction Agents. They undergo specialized training and use high-tech equipment to prevent the illegal entry of people, weapons, narcotics, and conveyances by air. They are also known as CBP Pilots. 

BPA. Acronym for Border Patrol Agent. BPAs work to secure the country’s vast land borders that it shares with Mexico and Canada. They do linewatch, farm and ranch checks, traffic checks, traffic observation, city patrol, and other activities. BPA can also refer to the Border Patrol Academy, the official training academy for new BPA recruits.   

CASS. Stands for Central Applicant Self- Service System. This is the system where applicants for entry-level Agricultural Specialist, Border Patrol Agent, and CBP Officer positions can check the status of their applications after they have passed the written exam and have been issued a Tentative Selection Letter.  

CBP. Acronym for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency tasked with securing our country’s borders and preventing the entry of terrorists and/or their weapons. It is under the Department of Homeland Security.

CBP Officers. Assigned in the more than 300 ports of entry in the United States, Customs and Border Patrol Officers ensure the nation’s safety by screening passengers and cargo.

GS/GL. Acronym for the pay tables of the Office of Personnel Management General Schedule. GS is the standard pay scale and GL is the law enforcement officer (LEO) pay scale. The GL is higher than the GS pay scale. 

CSRS. Acronym for Civil Service Retirement System, a defined benefit, contributory retirement system which was established in 1920 for certain employees of the Federal government. It is now replaced by the FERS or Federal Employees Retirement System.

DHS. Acronym for Department of Homeland Security whose goal is to secure the nation against its many threats and keep America safe. 

MIA. Stands for Marine Interdiction Agents. Like Air Interdiction Agents, they undergo specialized training and use high-tech equipment to prevent the illegal entry of people, weapons, narcotics, and conveyances by water.

Position. This refers to a slot a person can fill for a job. The position description outlines the tasks and duties required for the job. 

Recruiter. The individuals who you can talk to if you want to learn more about working for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.  

TSU. Refers to the Training Scheduling Unit where all files for those who have already cleared all pre-employment requirements go to in order to wait for scheduling at the Border Patrol Academy.

USAJOBS. This is the official online portal for all those looking for Federal government jobs. The CBP posts all their announcements for positions here. USAJOBS can be accessed at

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