OIAS Mission Statement
The University of Texas-Pan American student population is a largely hispanic group numbering more than 18,000 individuals. But diversity on campus is found among the international student population. Over 1000 international students from more than 47 countries attend the university. Their presence and integration into academic, community and student life is an essential part of what the Office of International Admissions and Services (OIAS) does to help meet the overall mission of the university as it prepares students for lifelong learning and leadership roles in the state, nation and world community.
Mission of the Office of International Admissions and Services
- Service: Serve the UTPA international community through the coordination and administration of programs that are designed to meet those special needs that are not specifically within the province of the student’s academic advisor
- Compliance: Assist in university and student responsibility for compliance with the laws and regulations of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and other government agencies that govern international students in the U.S.
- Advancement: To advance internationalization of the University of Texas Pan American and outreach to the local community through international services and programs.
The University of Texas-Pan American is located in the populous southern tip of Texas, 80 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas - Mexico border known as the Rio Grande Valley.
Edinburg is located 240 miles south of San Antonio, 350 miles south of Houston, 140 miles from Monterrey, Mexico, 600 miles from Mexico City, Mexico and only 16 miles from Reynosa, Mexico.
Edinburg is part of the fast-growing international metro area of McAllen, Mission, and Edinburg. Edinburg along with the rest of the South Texas area, has a truly unique and rich culture. It is located in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, where more than a million people live, 87% of whom are of Hispanic origin. Both Spanish and English are commonly used in everyday life, and most of the population is bilingual. If you do not speak Spanish you will have plenty of opportunities to learn and use it during your time at UTPA. The pace of life is relaxed, and the people are friendly and helpful.
The Rio Grande River forms the boundary between Texas and Mexico. The river, which starts in Colorado, enters the western end of the valley near the town of Roma and finishes the last 150 miles of its more than 1600-mile trek passing through the valley before it empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Brownsville.
The semi-tropical climate and irrigation water from the river and the many canals that are found throughout the valley help to make the Rio Grande Valley one of the major citrus and vegetable producing areas of the United States. It has also been listed as one of the top birding areas in the world with birders coming from around the world to see the many varieties of birds that are found here. The climate is semi-tropical with mild winters and hot summers. Day time temperatures that are normally in the upper 90's (Fahrenheit ) during the summer months can reach up to 110 degrees. The winters are mild and rarely go below 32 degrees. Most winter days are often in the 60-70 degree range.
Sixteen miles south of the city of McAllen lies Reynosa, Mexico, with a population of more than 750,000. The maquiladora factories located across the border in Reynosa have added approximately 65,000 jobs to Reynosa since 1988, and that growth has benefited the McAllen metropolitan area, which has become the retail center for a large portion of northern Mexico and South Texas."
All these factors help to make the location of UTPA ideally situated for your educational needs and an enjoyable experience as you partake in the richness of two cultures.
There are two airports that serve the Rio Grande Valley. It is recommended that you use McAllen-Miller International Airport (MFE), a regional air transportation center serving the fourth fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States. MFE is the closest airport, located only 20 minutes from campus. MFE has frequent daily flights to major airports in Dallas and Houston.
Harlingen's Valley International Airport is located about one hour from the campus and is the Rio Grande Valley's leading airport in terms of passenger activity. Valley International Airport also has many daily flights to Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
You will find that public transportation is very limited and you will have to take a taxi to reach campus or arrange other transportation. Taxis are available at both airports although a taxi from Valley International Airport will cost much more because of the distance involved.
The OIAS seeks to address the needs and issues of international students from their very first contact with the university as a prospective student to as long as they have a student relationship with the university. Such needs includes information and help in regard to admission processes, immigration processes, federal regulations, customs/culture, social needs, housing, medical care, and other needs that help them to make a successful adjustment to the life as a student in the U.S.
The OIAS seeks to provide a social support system and leadership opportunities through the co-ordination of the International Student Association. Activities such as camping, culture nights, volleyball, fund raisers, and travel all give the international student the opportunity to grow, adapt, and become comfortable in his/her new environment. This association also serves as the voice of the UTPA international community to the university and also to the local area
Community volunteer groups work through the OIAS to also service the needs of the international students.
The OIAS also serves to keep both the university and the international student in compliance with federal regulations. It serves as the liaison for both the university and the student with all federal agencies. The OIAS conducts orientations, immigration workshops, and provides other education services to both the university and the student. The OIAS advises on all immigration matters that relates to both the university and the student.
- Admission Services to all students who are not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
- Initial contact
- Processing of applications
- Immigration Services
- Issuing immigration documents
- SEVIS Reporting
- Filing of Immigration applications and advising in procedures for:
- Change of Status
- Optional Practical Training
- Work authorizations
- Extensions of Stay
- Changes of degree level
- Concurrent enrollment
- Evaluation of financial sources
- Serve as a resource about federal regulations and practices
- Authorization of employment
- Files and maintains current certification applications for the university with the Department of State and with the Department of Homeland Security
- File annual Exchange Visitor Report
- Advisement Services
- University policies
- Medical insurance
- Cultural adjustment
- Employment issues
- Social Security
- Driver’s license
- Automobile Insurance
- Educational Services
- Produces monthly immigration newsletter
- Immigration workshops for both faculty and students
- Immigration seminars
- Immigration handouts
- Liaison Services
- Represent the university on immigration related issues
- Serve as liaison between OIAS and departments, government agencies, and businesses in concerns regarding international students
- Coordination of Community Services
- International Friendship Partners
- International Gift Center
- Cultural awareness classes
- Volunteer organizations serving the needs of internationals
- Social Services
- International student association
- International week
- International Activities
- Coffee Hours
- Financial Services
- Tuition Waiver for Mexican Nationals
- Good Neighbor Scholarship
- Referral Services
- Local immigration attorneys
- Local counseling centers
- Apartment referrals
- Volunteer agencies that provide services for international students
DHS (Department of Homeland Security)
The agency prevents and deters terrorist attacks while protecting against and responding to threats and hazards to the U.S. nation. Ensures safe and secure borders, welcomes lawful immigrants and visitors, and promotes the free-flow of commerce.
DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status)
It is a U.S. government form that is issued by a school to a student in order to apply for a J-1 visa to come to the United States as a Exchange Student, Scholar, or Researcher
I-20 (Certificate Of Eligibility for a Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status)
It is a U.S. government form that is issued to a student so that they may apply for an F-1 Visa to come to the United States to study full-time and seek a degree.
I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record)
A small card that shows the date you arrived in the United States and the "Admitted Until" date, the date when your authorized period of stay expires. You will receive an USCIS Form I-94 or I-95 from an USCIS inspector when arriving in the United States border port-of-entry
INS (Former United States Immigration and Naturalization Service)
was a part of the United States Department of Justice and handled legal and illegal immigration and naturalization. It ceased to exist as a whole entity on March 1 2003
A passport is a travel document that serves as the ultimate form of proof for a person's citizenship. Passports are issued by the appropriate authoritative power of a country's government.
POE (Port of Entry)
To carry out DHS’s inspection requirements, the Attorney General, through the USCIS Commissioner, has designated ports of entry for foreign nationals seeking to enter the U.S. by boat, plane, or by land transportation.
SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)
SEVIS is an internet-based method for keeping track of international students and scholars as will as their dependents in the United States, created by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program)
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is the reengineered nonimmigrant student and exchange visitor (F,M, & J visa categories) process, converting what is currently a manual procedure into an automated process.
After the immigration inspector at the port of entry determines you are admissible to the US, an immigration status is granted, which is shown on your I-94 card and your I-20 (for F-1) or DS-2019 (for J-1). (Most of you will have either an F-1 or J-1 student status, or J-1 visiting scholar status). In most situations, your visa type and immigration status are the same, unless you have changed your immigration status after entering the US.
USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)
USCIS is responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities.
USICE (United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
Enforces U.S. immigration and customs laws in order to protect the United States against terrorist attacks. ICE does this by targeting illegal immigrants: the people, money and materials that support terrorism and other criminal activities.
USCBP (United States Customs and Border Protection)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection primary mission is to prevent terrorism and terrorist weapons from entering the U.S., while facilitating the entry of legitimate trade and travelers.
A visa is an authority issued by the Embassy/Consulate of a country that permits a traveler to visit that particular country. The majority of visas are stamped inside your passport. Visas are issued with specific limitations regarding purpose of visit, length of stay, validity of visa, etc.