If you are coming from out of town, please plan to arrive in El Paso, Texas, at least two weeks before the start date on your DS-2019 (#3 of the form). It is generally better to arrive earlier so that you can get settled and rested before beginning your Exchange activities. You are allowed to enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date on your DS-2019.
1). Read thoroughly through your DS-2019 packet and welcome information from The Office of International Programs (OIP).
2) Be sure you and your academic department at UTEP have the same understanding about your arrival and stay at UTEP.
3) Make financial arrangements before you come to UTEP to have sufficient funds (at least for one month) upon arrival. Please request employment authorization from the Office of International Programs after your arrival, and allow at least two weeks for the Social Security Office to process the request.
4) Be prepared pay for health insurance for the length of your visit.
5) Make temporary housing arrangements.
6) Be sure you and your family have passports, Forms DS-2019, and visas to enter the U.S. along with any other important documents.
Entering the United States
When you arrive at a U.S. port of entry, either an airport or land border crossing, an Immigration official will ask for your passport, J-1 visa, and form DS-2019. The official may also ask for your financial documents again or appointment/employment letter. The officer will give you a form I-94 (a small white card issued by the airline or the DHS as an Arrival/Departure Record). Completing the immigration and customs procedures and retrieving your baggage does not usually take a long time. However, when making your plane reservations, plan for two or more hours between flights at the U.S. port of entry. While in the airport, be extremely cautious and do not trust anyone with your luggage, documents or other valuables.
The visa, passport with the I-94, and your DS-2019 are very important to you during your stay in the U.S. and should be kept in a safe place at all times. They are proof of your legal J-1 status and you will need them for such purposes as extending your permission to stay in the U.S., re-entry to this country after temporary trips abroad, applying for a Social Security card, and obtaining a Texas driver’s license.
El Paso International Airport
The El Paso International Airport is about 10 miles from the UTEP Campus. There are taxis readily available at the airport, and the cost to get to UTEP should be around $20. Bus service is also available but requires two transfers and the schedules are usually hourly until about 5 pm. There are public phones for your use next to the Ground Transportation Counter by baggage claim, if you plan to meet someone.
Housing and Hotel Information
For hotels near The University of Texas at El Paso, please click here.
There are two UTEP locations for on-campus housing. One is at Miner Village and the other is at Miner Heights. Please visit our housing website for more information regarding on-campus apartments: www.utep.edu/housing or call 1-915-747-5352. On-Campus housing does fill up quickly, so please make reservations in advance.
All rooms include: High Speed Internet (Both Ethernet and Wireless connections), Basic Cable Package, Electricity, Gas, Water, and Refrigerated Air.
Off-campus housing advertisements can be found in El Paso’s local newspaper, El Paso Times, and other local newspapers. Advertisement for housing can also be found in UTEP’s newspaper, The Prospector. El Paso Times keeps a listing of the classifieds, found in its pages, on their website. There are many apartments also located within walking distance of UTEP; however it is not customary for them to be furnished. You may choose to search for housing when you arrive. This information is provided as a service only. It does not represent University-approved nor University-inspected housing. The Apartment List’s website also offers a great variety of listings in El Paso.
Using a pay phone in the U.S. requires 35 to 50 cents in coins. Making long distance phone calls when you first arrive can be done most economically and conveniently by going to a convenience store or U.S. post office and purchasing a calling card. These calling cards can also be used for making calls from your telephone in the U.S.
Local calls: Dial the seven-digit phone number
Local toll calls: Dial “1″ + (the 7-digit phone number)
Long-distance calls: Dial “1″ + (the area code) + (the 7-digit phone number)
Toll-free calls: Dial “1″ + “800″ + (the 7-digit number)
International direct calls: Dial “011″ + (the country code) + (the city code) + (the 7-digit phone number)
International Operator-Assisted Calls: Dial “01″ + (the country code) + (the city code) + (the 7-digit phone number)
For example, the number to call the Office of International Programs is 1-915-747-5664. If you are within the area already, then dial only the seven-digit local phone number. (ex: 747-5664)
Cell phones can be purchased at local vendors, Cricket, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Virgin Mobile are just a few that sell prepaid and month to month plans. These vendors do not usually require a social security number for prepaid plans or month to month plans. However, if you wish to sign a contract, usually contracts are made for two years, and require a social security number.
Amount brought with you should be enough to cover at least one month’s expenses, plus payments for any purchases such as a car, cellular (mobile) phone, etc.
Types of currency to carry may include:
o Wire transfer
o Traveler’s checks
o If available, a credit card accepted in the U.S.
You can also set up a bank account upon arrival with your visa, DS-2019, and a UTEP Identification card. There are 5 ATMs located on campus; you can find them on the campus map.
We recommend that you not carry large amounts of cash. Traveler’s checks in U.S. dollars issued by most banks in your home country are widely accepted as well.
What to pack
Faculty members at UTEP dress in business casual to casual wear, with very few wearing business suits. Ask the department you’ll be working with if they have specific guidelines. Bring a suit or nice dress for formal occasions such as a presentation or a conference. El Paso’s climate is warm and dry for most of the year. The temperatures here will be between 35-40° C during summer, but can occasionally drop as low as 1-2° during winters. You should bring or plan to buy a good jacket for winter. We also suggest you bring a few traditional forms of dress and some handcrafts or other small items from your home country.
Medical services and medicine in the U.S. are very costly. Because of this, you are required to have health insurance coverage while you are attending UTEP. There are insurance companies in the U.S. that offer insurance or you may use your insurance from your home country. Please refer to our health Insurance page for more information regarding the J-1 Exchange Visitor requirements.
To use insurance not provided by UTEP, you must request a waiver of the mandatory fee from the Office of International Programs at the start of every semester. This waiver must be requested and submitted to Human Resources within one week of your arrival you are at UTEP. You must continue your insurance coverage for the entire length of your stay in the U.S. The Office of International Programs is required to terminate the immigration status of any J-1 participant that intentionally stops their insurance for themselves or their dependents.
It is recommended that you have a thorough medical check-up for your own protection before you leave your home country. If you have personal preferences for medicines that you use for fevers, headaches and colds, you should plan to bring those with you. Otherwise, most common medications are available in U.S. stores. However, some products in the U.S. may require a doctor’s prescription. Therefore, if you take prescribed medications, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist for a copy of the prescription to bring with you. We also advise that you update all of your immunizations in your home country and bring proof with you.
Office of International Programs
203 Union East Bldg * (915) 747-5664 * firstname.lastname@example.org * Hours: Monday-Tuesday 8-6 Wednesday-Friday 8-5
Monday-Friday 8-5 when classes are not in session.