Plan Your Journey

Planning for a long journey can be difficult, but planning for life in another country can be both difficult and confusing! Here is some information that will make the process much easier!

  1. Sevis I-20 or DS-2019
  2. Visa Information
  3. 10 Hints for your Visa Interview
  4. Health Insurance
  5. Immunizations
  6. Tuberculosis Testing
  7. Travel Information & Arrival
  8. Flight Information

1. SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019

A SEVIS generated immigration document (I-20 or DS-2019) is issued to each new international student entering the United States (U.S.) admitted to New Mexico State University. Your I-20 or DS-2019 must be accurate for both your visa appointment and for your inspection at the U.S. point of entry. Read and comply with the instructions attached to your I-20 or DS-2019 and review for accuracy. Check the spelling of your name (and those of family members, if you are traveling with dependants), birth date, country of birth, citizenship, school, academic program, level of degree, and financial information. If there are discrepancies, contact ISSS immediately!


2. Visa Information

Before you can make travel arrangements to the United States, you will need to be approved for a visa. Due to the high volume of visa applications, make your visa appointment as early as possible with the U.S. consulate or embassy. For more information about visas, you should visit the U.S. Department of State visa page.  In order to help make the visa process faster, we recommend that students open an account at University Express Mail Services. It is advisable to view the U.S. Embassy website to prepare for your visa interview and pay the visa application fee. When you travel to the United States, be sure to keep all of your documents with you, and do not place any of them into the checked baggage. After you arrive, a border officer will inspect your documents.


3. 10 Hints For Your Visa Interview

  1. Ties to Your Home Country
    Under U.S. law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas, such as student visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must, therefore, be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. “Ties” to your home country are the things that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country. Each person’s situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter which can guarantee visa issuance. If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was available but not with a specific intent to immigrate. If you overstayed your authorized stay in the United States previously, be prepared to explain what happened clearly and concisely, with documentation, if available.
  2. English 
    Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview, but do NOT prepare speeches! If you are coming to the United States solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.
  3. Speak for Yourself
    Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there in case there are questions, for example about funding, they should wait in the waiting room.
  4. Know the Program and How It Fits Your Career Plans 
    If you are not able to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the United States relates to your future professional career when you return home.
  5. Be Brief 
    Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. The officer must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions formed during the first minute of the interview. Consequently, what you say first, and the initial impression you create, are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer’s questions short and to the point.
  6. Additional Documentation
    It should be immediately clear to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time, if you are lucky.
  7. Not All Countries are Equal 
    Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United States.
  8. Employment and Family
    International students are not permitted to work while in the U.S. Your main purpose in coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program.
  9. Dependants Remaining at Home
    If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.
  10. Maintain a Positive Attitude
    Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.


4. Health Insurance

NMSU requires all F-1 and J-1 students to purchase and continually maintain major medical health insurance, which includes repatriation and medical evacuation of a minimum of $10,000. Travel insurance purchased in your home country is not acceptable. Students can purchase insurance through CELP or provide proof of equal insurance from their home country which will cover them during their stay in the US. Students enrolled in CELP are able to use the NMSU Campus Health Center.


5. Immunizations

The following immunizations are recommended for all students coming to study at CELP:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles/Mumps/Rubella
  • Meningitis
  • Polio
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever

6. Tuberculosis Testing

All students who come to study more than 6 weeks must submit to a Tuberculosis test at NMSU upon arrival or provide certification of tuberculosis test within 30 days of departure for the United States.


7. Travel Information & Arrival

Early Arrival

Students who need housing and who arrive early will need to find accommodations until housing opens. Here are some suggestions:

Local Motels – For temporary housing the following facilities are close to campus:

  • Comfort Suites    (575) 522-1300
  • Plaza Suites        (575) 525-5500
  • Ramada Palms   (575) 526-4411
  • Sleep Inn             (575) 522-1700

If you have been approved for late arrival, you will be provided with a letter of invitation for late arrival.  This letter should be kept with your visa, passport and immigration form.

Weather in Las Cruces

Review the average temperature table below to help you pack for your stay.

Spring  (March- May) 25°C 5.5°C
Summer (June- August) 40°C 17°C
Autumn (September – November) 25°C 6.7°C
Winter (December – February) 15°C -2.8°C

Packing List

Other items to bring include:

  • A hat and sunglasses
  • Comfortable walking shoes – you will walk a lot at NMSU!
  • Cultural items such as musical instruments, recordings of traditional/contemporary music, picture books, arts and crafts, and small gifts to share your talents and customs with people in the United States
  • You may consider bringing traditional dress and accessories from your country for festive occasions.
  • Extra prescriptions (medicines) or reading glasses


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