Scholar Advisement & Walk-in Hours
You can talk to an International Scholar Advisor during designated walk-in hours Monday through Friday, 1:00 pm-3:00 pm. If you are unable to make it during these times or require an extended session, please schedule an appointment by phone at 505.277.4032.
When to Contact GEO
International Scholar Advisors are available at GEO to help you with any questions you might have.
The Global Education Office (GEO) is required to report information about you and your immigration status to the US government via the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). For this reason, you MUST contact our office whenever you make changes in your academic program, your address, ID numbers, name, etc. The consequences for not reporting this information can be very severe, so it is extremely important that you consult with us if you make a change or are unsure if a change in your circumstances needs to be reported.
Please follow this link for more information.
Information Regarding Executive Orders Issued by President Trump on January 27, 2017
A number of Executive Orders were issued by President Trump on January 27, 2017 that impact internationals in the US. We have summarized some of the recent changes that impact international students and scholars below as of February 1, 2017. We encourage you to monitor the website of our professional organization NAFSA: Association of International Educators, as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). These groups employ expert attorneys and policy analysts whose explanations of these policies is incredibly valuable.
While these organizations are trusted to provide impartial information, written by experts, about recent changes to immigration policy, other online sources may offer false or misleading information. Please exercise caution and be aware of the source of any information you might find online or elsewhere.
The text of the Executive Order from January 27, 2017, Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States by Foreign Nationals, is available here.
Brief Summary of Recent Executive Actions
On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order entitled Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals. This Executive Order’s directives affect individuals from seven countries, as well as all would-be Refugees to the US. Additionally, the Order calls for increased screening procedures and a review of existing processes in all Consulates.
Individuals on both Immigrant or Non-Immigrant Visas from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen (i.e. nationals of these countries, or those who were born in or are permanent residents of these countries, or are dual nationals) are affected as follows:
- Suspension of Visa Issuance and Entry to US– The Executive Order specifically suspends issuance of US visas or permission to enter the US for 90 days, starting from January 27, 2017. At this time it is not clear whether this will be extended.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the government office responsible for entry of non-citizens to the US, has issued a statement, here. They also clarify that citizens of the 7 impacted countries that hold US permanent residency will not be banned from entry to the US, but may experience additional scrutiny.
- Possible Suspension of USCIS benefits– The Executive Order also includes wording which suggests that USCIS benefits (such as Change of Status, Employment Authorization including OPT, OPT STEM Extensions, and H-1B petitions) may also be suspended for 90 days from January 27, 2017. However, this is not yet clear and despite reports from unconfirmed sources, USCIS has not confirmed that it is refraining from taking action on pending applications for individuals from these countries.
Individuals from all countries should also be aware of the following aspects of the Executive Order:
- Suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP) - The Executive Order suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which some US Embassies used to allow individuals to apply for visas or visa renewal without an in-person interview. Interviews are now required for all visa applications.
- Increased Screenings, Possible Travel Delays– The Executive Order calls for an increased biometrics program at all ports of entry, and other additional screenings not specified, which may lead to delays in entrance to the US at a US port of entry, such as an airport or land border.
- Future Changes in Visa Issuance for additional countries - The Executive Order calls for a review of US visa issuance procedures in all countries, as well as visa reciprocity rules, which determine the length of time a visa will be valid based on an individual’s country of citizenship and the fees assessed. These continuing revisions and reviews may result in countries being added to or removed from the visa/entry suspension list, changes in fees, or visa lengths.
We recognize that these changes are a great source of anxiety and stress for our international students and scholars, and GEO wants to make clear that we are here to offer our support to any of our international students and scholars who have questions or concerns. Students and scholars can come to advisor walk-in hours or schedule an appointment to meet with an advisor by calling 505-277-4032.
Individuals who are stuck while traveling or outside of the US can email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance or call GEO at 505-277-4032. For emergencies outside of business hours, please call 505-277-4GEO. If the phone is occupied or unanswered the call will be re-directed to UNM campus police who can call a GEO staff member.
GEO will share updates with the impacted communities as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does this executive order affect my immigration status in the US?
There is currently no impact on the immigration status of those physically present in the United States. Current regulations remain in place, until any changes may be made and formalized into law. Be aware that changes in laws or regulations take time and require the approval of many US lawmakers, and we will be aware of these changes as they are being reviewed in advance of any approval. However, changes in policy or guidance and Executive Orders may happen more quickly and may take effect immediately, such as the Executive Order of January 27. GEO will monitor any decisions impacting our student and scholar populations and will provide updated information as it is available through this website and via email.
Can I travel outside the US, and re-enter?
Starting from January 27, 2017, entry to the US and visa issuance is suspended for all non-immigrant individuals from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The Executive Order also includes the possibility of adding countries to this list after a 90-day period of review. Because of this, for the immediate and near future, GEO suggests careful consideration of international travel due to the changing nature of the new administration’s policies on visas and US entry.
Students and scholars traveling out of the United States MUST travel with originals of all immigration documents (including an I-20 or DS-2019 signed within the past 6 months by a GEO advisor), transcripts, financial proof, as well as proof of continuing student or scholar status in the form of letters from GEO or their department verifying that they are still conducting the activity for which they were admitted to the US (e.g., study or research). If you are traveling for a reason related to your study or research (such as travel for a conference or workshop), a support letter or letter of explanation of the travel purpose from your advisor/supervisor is also recommended. Should you have concerns about immediate or essential international travel or visa renewal, contact GEO to speak with an advisor.
Individuals who do not have a current visa in their passport and who would need to apply for a new visa for re-entry while outside of the US should anticipate potentially longer wait times for visa appointments and visa issuance and should plan accordingly. In other words, travel outside of the US during the semester is not recommended, especially for those who do not have valid visas in their passports for reentry.
Can I travel within the US?
There is currently no ban on travel within the US. However, students and scholars should travel with originals of all immigration documents as well as proof of continuing student or scholar status in the form of letters from GEO or their department verifying that they are still conducting the activity for which they were admitted to the US (study or research). If you are traveling for a reason related to your study or research (such as travel for a conference or workshop), a support letter or letter of explanation of the travel purpose from your advisor/supervisor is also recommended. Remember that there are immigration checkpoints inside the United States, particularly close to Mexico and Canada, so individuals will want to carry their documents when traveling out of Albuquerque.
Will I still have OPT/ STEM OPT available when I graduate? Will the H-1B program be cancelled?
There are currently no changes to these programs. Be aware that changes in laws or regulations usually take time and have advanced warning. Changes in policy or guidance and executive orders may happen more quickly and may take effect immediately. GEO will be monitoring new developments and will inform the community of any updates that could have an impact as information is announced.
Will the Fulbright program or the J visa program disappear? Will the J-1 Two-Year Home Residency Requirement significantly change?
There are currently no changes being made to these programs. Be aware that changes in laws or regulations take time and will have advance warning. Changes in policy or guidance and executive orders may happen more quickly and may take effect immediately. GEO will be monitoring any new developments and will inform the community of any updates that could have an impact.
Where can I find support if I have immigration concerns? Support for anxiety or stress?
Please visit GEO with any F-1 or J-1 immigration concerns or questions. Our advisors provide a welcoming, safe environment to explore your concerns related to your immigration status. For complex issues beyond our scope, we can offer guidance in finding a referral for an immigration attorney – some are offering pro-bono (free) consultations for students who are directly impacted by the Executive Orders of January 27. You can also consult one of the immigration attorneys listed here.
Enrolled UNM students experiencing stress, anxiety and depression can also receive support from UNM’s Student Health and Counseling, including individual confidential counseling appointments. Call them at 505-277-3136 for an appointment.
What can I do if I or someone I know is the target of, or witness to, a hate-motivated act? Where can I report an incident of harassment or violence?
If you have witnessed or experienced intimidation, harassment, or violence against individuals or targeted groups, you can contact a number of different offices on campus to report the incident or to seek support:
1) Lobo Respect Advocacy Center – 505-277-2911 – This confidential advocacy center wants to hear from you about any incidents and can provide support and direct you to resources
2) Student Health and Counseling – 505-277-3136 – Confidential health practitioners can help you with anything related to your physical and mental health.
3) UNM Police Department – 505-277-2241 – Can take official complaints about an incident/occurrence on campus
4) GEO – 505-277-4032 – Can refer you to resources on and off campus related to the incident
How can I avoid causing any problems with my ability to stay in the US?
At any time, it is important to avoid any violations of your F-1 or J-1 status. In addition to meeting course enrollment requirements, reporting any change in address, and only working with proper authorization, individuals in non-immigrant status are expected to refrain from breaking any US federal or New Mexico state laws.
If you choose to participate in protests, please understand that an arrest can have serious immigration implications. Arrests or convictions that involve violence, drugs, or alcohol can have very serious and long-lasting impacts on current and future immigration status. While some states now permit the recreational or medicinal use of marijuana, it is still an illegal controlled substance at the federal level. Moreover, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) of alcohol or drugs can result in fines, jail time, visa cancellation, or deportation.
If you are arrested or have any legal concerns, please contact GEO immediately. In such cases, we urge you to seek advice from a qualified immigration attorney as well as criminal counsel.
What can I do to help if I am not an international student or scholar?
If you know an international student or scholar, it is really powerful for you to voice your support directly to those individuals. Many UNM international students and scholars are feeling alienated, unwelcome and afraid. If everyone who wants to show support would approach the international students that they know and tell them that they are happy they are here and they want them to feel welcome, that will go a long way toward reversing the negative emotional impact these rules have had on our international community.
UNM and the GEO office stand firmly in support of our international students and scholars. We hope you will come in to speak with an advisor and seek our help if you need it.
Published February 1, 2017