Meet Stephanie Palmer, Your UC Davis Immigration Advisor
As the immigration advisor for International Programs at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education, Stephanie Palmer provides immigration and visa support to international students and their partner institutions. Stephanie has an extensive background in international education and has studied abroad in Germany and Norway. She completed her undergraduate studies at UC Davis, where she double majored in International Relations and German and served as a peer advisor in the Global Ambassador Mentorship Program. She also holds a master’s degree in Comparative and International Education from the University of Oslo.
How can you help international students with their visas?
I provide immigration and visa advising to both F-1 and J-1 visa holders (and their F-2 and J-2 dependents). I also provide pre-arrival advising to students, their families, and partner institutions.
International students participating in academic programs commonly travel using the F-1 student visa. As the immigration advisor for F-1 programs, I create and issue students’ I-20 Eligibility Forms, which are required for the F-1 visa interview. F-1 students who are eligible for work authorization may also contact me with questions about Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), and STEM OPT Extension.
International participants in research-based or exchange programs commonly travel using the J-1 visa. As the immigration advisor for J-1 programs, I create and issue DS-2019 Certificates of Eligibility for J-1 scholars and students, which are required for the J-1 visa interview. I can also answer questions about Academic Training (AT) for J-1 students who are eligible to work.
What personal experience do you bring to your role?
I have worked in the field of international education since 2014, and I have been involved in the field as a student or volunteer since 2009. Having been an international student myself, I know firsthand the challenges of navigating a new culture and language, so I understand that what may seem unimportant or normal to a member of a culture may be completely foreign to someone new. With that mindset, I view my role as somewhat of a translator. It is my job to be familiar with immigration regulations and explain how these regulations affect students and scholars. My goal is to explain these regulations as clearly as possible, so students and scholars feel comfortable asking questions and they have the knowledge they need to maintain their immigration status.
What pre-arrival visa support do you provide?
Many students and scholars have a lot of questions about the visa process after admission to a program, so I begin working with them as soon as they have been accepted by collecting the necessary documents for the I-20 or DS-2019 (required for F-1 and J-1 visa interviews, respectively). Once they have obtained their visa, I typically remain in constant contact with them through the first 30 days of their program or research project. I help keep students and scholars informed of important immigration updates and upcoming deadlines and am available to answer any visa or immigration questions they may have.
How do you support students once they arrive at UC Davis?
Once students and scholars arrive in Davis, they must be sure to continue maintaining their immigration status throughout the program. As an immigration and visa advisor, I provide students with the necessary information to keep their I-20s or DS-2019s in good standing. Students and scholars are ultimately responsible for their own immigration status, but I provide assistance and guidance whenever possible.
What types of questions can you help answer for potential students/partners?
I’m available for both pre-arrival and post-arrival questions. I’m not an academic advisor, so I’m unable to answer questions about program structure or course options, but I can offer advice on F-1 and J-1 visas and the procedures surrounding both. I can also answer some questions related to changes in immigration guidance due to COVID-19 and how it may affect a student’s status, and I can direct students, scholars and partners to UC Davis and California State resources regarding vaccines and quarantining.
What do you value most about working with the international community?
Working in the international community provides me with the opportunity to learn about different perspectives and how one action or word can mean different things in different places. I also admire international students and scholars for their bravery and tenacity. It takes a lot of courage to travel to a new city in a different country, often with a different language. I’ve always enjoyed working with international students and scholars because they have the biggest dreams, and they’re working hard to reach those goals. It’s inspiring.
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