International Students

Thriving in the states

Grad school will be challenging enough without the frustration of learning how to live in a new country. Here is a collection of tips put together by our international students. If you have more questions, feel free to ask the other grad students. 


Check out: NMSU international student website 

When you arrive on campus, stop by International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office which is open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm. 

NMSU International & Border Programs: International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) 
       (575) 646-2834 
       Garcia Annex, Room 246 
       MSC 3567 / P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001 

For emergency assistance after hours or during the weekend, contact the director, Mary Jaspers at 575-649-0393. 

Social Security Number (SSN)

The first thing you must do as a foreign employee is to get your Social Security Number. 

  1. Go to the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) (Garcia Annex Room 246, (575) 646-2834) with the following papers: 
    Letter from your on-campus employer (ask Ofelia for this) 
    I-20 or DS2019, passport, I-94 
    Mary Jaspers will give you a Eligibility letter from International Programs to verify current enrollment. 
  1. Go to the Social Security Office (you'll need to drive there) with two things: 
    CIP letter 
    I-20 or DS2019, passport, I-94 
    If you have any questions, you can call the SS Office at 523-0771. 
  1. Give your personal information, then you must complete the Application for Original Social Security Number Card. You will use that application form when people will ask you about your social security number card. 

You must wait a month in order to get your SSN. Ask Ofelia about your provisional SSN or 999 number. The 999 number is provided by NMSU for internal purposes. You can not use that number off campus. 

Administration Papers

As a foreign graduate assistant you must show your passport, I94, I20, and SS number at Hadley Hall, Personal Processing Section (room 16). Ask Lorenza for more details. If you do not have SSN yet, you can show your 999 number; when you get your SSN you must show it. 

Course Registration

If you do not have your SSN yet, you can give your 999 number. When you will get SS card, you must go the Education Services building (by the duck pond) and show it to the Registrar. Then you must wait 24 hours and speak with the NMSU ID maker at Cobert Center on the third floor. 

  1. Fill the white card as indicated. A total of 10 (9) credits should be distributed among the courses. The white cards can be found at the Graduate school in the educational service center. All courses with an (I) on the left require an ADD/DROP form to be filled. 
    Audit option: an audit course does not take into account in your number of credits. 
  1. ADD/DROP form should be filled in as indicated. 
  1. Go to the Graduate School and register. If you want your tuition automatically deducted from your paycheck, ask them for the Payroll Deduction form. 
  1. They must give you the following papers: the payroll deduction form, the copies of your add/drop forms (the yellow ones), and your schedule (a paper with your personal information, your courses and the amount of money that you must pay). 
  1. Go to the Cashiers and show them your semester schedule and your payroll deduction form. The employee will fill the payroll deduction form and will give back to you, as well as a receipt of payment. 
  1. The next day get your NMSU ID card at Corbert Center on the third floor. 

That's it! In case of financial troubles, go to the Business Office next to the Cashiers. 

Bank Account

You need a bank account for many reasons. The ISSS has a lot of information about bank accounts (ask Mary Jaspers or Dianne Gobrick) or ask the other grad students about their bank accounts. One useful piece of information is that in order to get a bank account you have to show two independent pieces of identification: passport and SS card, or NMSU student card and driver license, or something else. 

Signing up for direct deposit means that any credits to your NMSU account go directly to your bank account. You must wait to have your own checking account and checks with your personal information or having a checking account for direct deposit. Lorenza recommends that all students sign up for direct deposit. Getting direct deposit involves two parts: fill out the Direct Deposit Authorization form and then sign up on myNMSU by clicking the "Student Accounts" tab, clicking "Direct Deposit Enrollment", and filling out your bank information. 

Academic Requirements and Procedures

The department head makes a small book with a lot of useful information about the department of Astronomy. It is usually distributed in the first week of the academic year. 


This is a document usually given the first day of class and is a general description of a course. In it you describe our policies for grading, late submissions, plagiarism, etc.. 


You should have a health insurance coverage when the classes starts. People from the ISSS can give you a lot of information about health insurance. You can also purchase the student health insurance there or online. 

Phone Cards

A website where you can get an online phone card is

Treasury Services

At some point, you should go and talk to the people at Treasury Services (Hadley Hall, Room 18, 646-4019), especially Robert Scaling if he is available. You just tell them that you are a new international graduate student. Take your passport and I20 with you. You should fill out some forms, like the employee's withholding allowance certificate. Ask Lorenza when you should do this. 


Once per year you should do the American ceremony of filing your taxes, both state and federal, although most people find filing online with TurboTax sufficient. The university will send you the forms: 1042-S, Foreign person's US source income subject to withholding, and W2, wage and tax statement. The friendly people at Treasury Services can help you fill the federal and state taxes. In the past people have been helped by Robert Scaling. 
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