International Students

The general policies of the university as outlined in this catalog apply to international as well as domestic students. However, some special policies are required by federal laws applicable only to international students.

An international student is any individual attending NMSU while present in the United States on a non-immigrant student visa. Legal immigrants or refugees must present documentation of their status either to University Admissions or to the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) Office.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Some of the more important rules as established by the United States Department of Homeland Security for students in non-immigrant status such as F-1 or J-1 visa types are:

  1. Each student must maintain full-time student status for both the fall and spring semesters.
  2. International students may not work off campus without authorization. On-campus employment may be authorized under certain conditions.
  3. All international students must maintain an up-to-date record in the ISSS Office. This record must indicate the student’s current living address and local phone number.
  4. Prior to admission, a prospective international student must demonstrate the following:
  • Academic ability to succeed in the chosen course of study
  • Adequate financial support to complete the chosen course of study
  • Adequate command of the English language to maintain legal status as a full-time student for the fall and spring semesters.

University Procedures for International Students

Scholastic Ability

  1. Prospective undergraduates must have completed a minimum of 12 year's schooling and/or submit official diploma or completion certificate.
  2. Official transcripts showing the classes taken and grades earned for the school years 10, 11, and 12 must be submitted. No hand-carried documents will be accepted unless received in a sealed envelope.
  3. The scholastic average for the last three years of high school must be equivalent to 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale. International students are not admitted on a provisional or probationary basis.
  4. Graduation from a high school in the United States does not automatically qualify an international student for admission to NMSU. The student must also submit official transcripts from his or her foreign secondary school.

Regular Undergraduate Admission and English Requirements

After regular and full admission to an NMSU degree program, each international undergraduate student is administered an English Language Placement Test. Based on the results, the student is either assigned to SPCD 110 Intermediate ESL Composition and Grammar Review (a bridge course designed to ensure success in ENGL 111 M Rhetoric and Composition for International and Multilingual Students), or allowed to enroll directly into ENGL 111 M Rhetoric and Composition for International and Multilingual Students. International students excused from ENGL 111 M Rhetoric and Composition for International and Multilingual Students will be required to take ENGL 111G Rhetoric and Composition, including students whose native language is English. The student may then be required to complete one or more regular English classes as required for a particular degree. Completion of basic English courses at other U.S. institutions does not automatically satisfy this requirement.

English Language Proficiency

NMSU requires a score of 520 (paper-based) or 68 (internet-based) or better on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or a score of 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), for all international students, both nondegree and degree-seeking. International students may also demonstrate English proficiency by completing NMSU’s Center for English Language Programs (CELP) programs with a satisfactory score. A waiver of the TOEFL requirement may be considered for:

  1. Students who are native speakers of English.
  2. Students completing high school in the United States who:
    1. have attended the high school for at least two full semesters and
    2. have scored in at least the 75th percentile in English on the ACT.
  3. Students transferring from a junior college, or university in the United States who have earned a minimum of 30 acceptable semester credits (45 acceptable quarter credits) with a GPA of 2.0 or better (acceptable credit means classes that require a high proficiency in both written and oral English).
  4. Students demonstrating English-language proficiency using methods accepted by the Office of University Admissions or ISSS Office.
  5. Students enrolling in certain programs where English language proficiency is not required.
  6. Students completing coursework in CELP. Satisfactory completion of each level in CELP requires a final grade of no less than 70% in all courses. Visit for full details.

The university reserves the right to require any prospective international student to meet the TOEFL or IELTS requirement.

For complete information concerning the TOEFL examination, applicants should review the following web site:

Conditional CELP Admission and English Requirements

NMSU, via Center for English Language Programs (CELP), conducts an Intensive English Language Program (IELP) for undergraduate and graduate students prior to pursuing their degree programs at NMSU. International students in this program are admitted to the university for the sole purpose of studying English, with a guarantee of full admission to the university upon completion of the CELP program (subject to all other admission requirements). Undergraduate students who are conditionally admitted and complete the sequence of IELP courses will be admitted directly into ENGL 111 M Rhetoric and Composition for International and Multilingual Students. Visit for full details.

Financial Support

No financial aid is available from NMSU for international students. The university reserves the right to demand advance deposit of funds for any period deemed reasonable prior to granting admission. An international student can never qualify for residency and must pay nonresident fees. Each prospective international student must submit a current financial support document with his or her application. This document must show that:

  1. The person providing the financial support has the necessary funds.
  2. The funds can be transferred from the student’s home country to the United States.

Admission Restrictions

International student admission may be prohibited under one of the following conditions:

  1. The dean of a chosen college and the department head of a chosen major or the President of a Community College campus may refuse to grant admission.
  2. There may be a disproportionate number of international students or a disproportionate number of a particular nationality in one department, college or community college.
  3. Academic advisors may not be available.
  4. International students may be nondegree if admitted as exchange students, or as part of a special program, or as holders of visas that allow incidental studies related to their current non-immigrant status. (e.g., J-2 or H-1B).
  5. Non-native speakers of English are not normally admitted, or allowed to begin studies, in the summer sessions. There are some exceptions such as students admitted to NMSU's Center for English Language Programs.
  6. University Community College campuses reserve the right to refuse admission to international students if the necessary immigration and English-language support services are not available.

All application material, including the application for admission, letters of recommendation, transcripts or national examination scores and/or transcripts from colleges or universities (with an English translation), test scores including the TOEFL or IELTS, should be sent to the University Admissions Office by the following recommended dates. Proof of adequate financial support should be sent directly to International Student & Scholar Services.

March 11 for fall semester
October 11 for spring semester

Miscellaneous Regulations

  1. All international students are required to have coverage at the Student Health Center except when the Las Cruces campus Student Health Center is not available to them.
  2. All international students are required to purchase health insurance at the Student Health Center. Exceptions for alternate health insurance plans must be pre-approved by the ISSS Office. Students without insurance will not be allowed to register.
  3. Upon arrival all international students must report to one of the following offices on the campus to which they were admitted. New international students are not permitted to register until all ISSS requirements are met, including attending orientation and taking the English screening examination. All international students, therefore, are required to report to the appropriate office on their campus.
    • Las Cruces campus: International Student & Scholar Services, Garcia Annex, room 246 (exchange students need to report to the Office of Study Abroad)
    • Doña Ana Community College: International Student & Scholar Services, Garcia Annex, room 246 (exchange students need to report to the Office of Study Abroad)
    • Alamogordo Community College: Office of Student Services, Student Services Building, second floor
    • Carlsbad Community College: Office of Student Services, 150 University Drive, Room 111
    • Grants Community College: Office of Student Services, Walter Martinez Building, Main Office Complex
  4. Undergraduate students are required to carry at least 12 credits per semester. Students in nondegree exchange J-1 visa status must be engaged full time in a prescribed course of study as determined by the NMSU Responsible or Alternate Responsible Officer (RO/ARO).