Basic Instructions

  • Read the materials sent to you: Your UNM department will send you your DS-2019 form, a Welcome Letter for Incoming Scholars from GEO, A Scholar Arrival Guide, and Welcome Brochure from the Department of State. Please review all these documents to understand the details and conditions of your stay in the U.S.

  • Review your immigration documents: When you receive your DS-2019, please review it carefully for any errors. Make sure it is consistent with your passport. Contact your UNM department immediately if you find any errors on your or your dependents’ (if any) DS-2019 form/s.

  • SEVIS Fee: Prior to your visa interview, you must pay the SEVIS Fee. Bring the receipt to the interview. You must pay the fee at least 3 business days prior to your visa interview or before arriving for admission at a U.S. port of entry (if you are exempt from U.S. visa requirement). For more information, please review the welcome letter for incoming scholars.

  • Visa Interview: Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and schedule an interview appointment for a J-1 visa (unless you are a Canadian citizen).

  • Health Insurance: You are required by immigration law to maintain health insurance for yourself (and your dependents, if any) throughout your stay in the U.S., and will be asked by GEO to show proof of insurance coverage. If you will be paid by UNM, you may be eligible for UNM employee health insurance through your department. Otherwise, you must purchase health insurance from an external provider. Find more information on the Scholar Arrival Guide or the Health Insurance Information for Scholars page. A GEO advisor can answer any questions you may have about your insurance options.

  • Housing: There are many different ways to inquire about housing. You should check with your department to see if they can assist you in finding suitable housing. You can also read our suggestions in the Scholar Arrival Guide for information on housing options. You may consider contacting ISI (International Students, Inc.), a non-UNM volunteer group that helps many scholars and students arriving in Albuquerque with a temporary home-stay or other housing suggestions. ISI may be able to match you with a local family in Albuquerque for airport pick-up and/or a short family home-stay while you look for permanent housing (approximately 3 days). This service is free. ISI is a Christian organization, but there is no obligation to participate in any religious activities. If you are interested, contact ISI at: or contact Joan Lasche by phone: 505-238-6064.

  • Delays: If unexpected events cause your arrival to be delayed more than 15 days after the start date on your DS-2019, you must notify your UNM department immediately. A new DS-2019 with a postponed start date will have to be issued for you.