Arrival Information

Basic Instructions

Read the materials sent to you

You will be receiving from either your department or us: 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.

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 page. A GEO advisor can answer any questions you may have about your insurance options.


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.


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.

Airport Arrival

Airport Pickup & Temporary Housing

  • A non-UNM, community Christian volunteer organization called ISI (International Students, Inc.) offers free airport pick-up and temporary home-stay services. If you are interested, contact them at least one month prior to your arrival to ensure they will have time to locate volunteers to assist you. ISI may also be able to assist you in your search for long-term housing in Albuquerque. ISI is a Christian Organization, but there is no obligation to participate in any religious activities. For more information, see their website or contact them by e-mail at

  • Some UNM departments may offer assistance with airport pick-up or arranging temporary housing for their scholars. Check directly with your department to see if this assistance is available.

Getting to Campus

The University of New Mexico is located about five miles from the airport. You should plan to take a taxi from the airport to the University or your temporary accommodations if you haven’t set up any other airport pick-up. A taxi to the University will cost approximately $12 plus a tip of about $2 for the driver. The trip from the airport to the University should take about 10 minutes. If you arrive late in the evening and you have not made other arrangements, you will need to stay at a nearby hotel. Some departments may be able to assist you with airport pick-up or temporary housing accommodations. Please check directly with your department.

What to Bring From Home


You should copy all of your important documents before you come to the U.S. and leave copies with family or friends at home in case you need them sent to you.
You should plan to bring the following with you to the U.S. (do not pack these documents in your luggage, keep them with you at all times!):

  • Passport with entry visa

  • DS-2019 form (in most cases this will be enclosed in an envelope that the U.S. Consulate has given you)

  • Proof of finances to support your stay in the U.S. (if you are supported by your department you should bring your department’s offer letter)

  • Credit card Information

  • Academic Transcripts

  • International and home country driver’s licenses

  • Certified copies of your birth certificate and any national identification card, if applicable

NOTE: Remember, you must bring the originals of these documents with you to the U.S.

Medical Information

  • Get copies of your immunization records (Measles, Mumps, Rubella [MMR] is required). You will need to provide these if there is an outbreak.
  • Bring prescriptions for any regular medications (plus several months’ worth of these medications).

  • Get extra eyeglasses if you need them – these are expensive in the U.S. and are often not covered by insurance.

  • Get your dental work done – dentistry in the U.S. is expensive and often not covered by insurance.

  • Buy an emergency travel insurance policy to cover you for medical emergencies if your health insurance is not yet in effect.


  • You should arrive with $2000 to $3000 in U.S. currency to cover initial costs. These funds will be used for your arrival expenses such as taxi, meals, supplies, apartment deposits, and other personal needs.
  • For your protection it is best to carry any large sums of money in the form of traveler's checks (be sure to sign your name to each one) or card, NOT CASH. You should also carry a small amount of money in U.S. dollars.

  • If you bring a bank draft or a foreign check to open an account, you may not be able to draw upon it for 2 to 3 weeks; so do not rely upon these funds for immediate cash.

  • After you have established an account, you may wire money directly from your home bank to your Albuquerque bank. Since wiring fees are expensive, consider wiring only large sums. Wiring money usually takes three to five business days. In addition, exchanging foreign currency is difficult and can be expensive and time consuming, so you should avoid bringing foreign currency with you for use in the U.S.