A native of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Raymond Farrell graduated from Georgetown University Law School in Washington, D.C., in 1931. He subsequently served as a federal investigator in a variety of assignments throughout the United States, and in 1938 and 1939 was special counsel to the joint Senate-House Committee for the investigation of the Tennessee Valley Authority. He came to the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1941.
Farrell went on active military duty during World War II in May, 1942, and received the Bronze Star for outstanding service in Italy during the Rome-Arno campaign. He separated from the Army on November 30, 1945, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Upon his return to the Immigration Service following World War II, Farrell was named Chief of Investigations at New York City. In 1948 he came to the INS Central Office in Washington, D.C., as Information Specialist and the following year was made Assistant Commissioner for Research, Education and Information. He became Assistant Commissioner for Investigations in 1952. Six years later he was promoted to Associate Commissioner in Charge of Service Operations, coordinating the functions of the investigative, enforcement, and examinations work of the Service, as well as the overseas offices.
He was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization on February 5, 1962. Farrell served as INS Commissioner for eleven years, and was the only Commissioner to come to that post by rising through the ranks of the Service. He retired March 31, 1973, after thirty-one years with the INS.