If you are having an emergency, call 911, and be ready to tell them what your emergency is and where you are. If you witness a car accident or other kind of emergency, call 911. They will often ask for your name and contact info. If a crime is committed in your apartment complex or neighborhood, it is common for the police to speak with neighbors and any witnesses.
If you are pulled over by the police while driving, DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE. Wait inside your car until the officer approaches your window with your license and registration in hand. Stay calm and answer any questions they ask. If you attempt to get out of your vehicle, the officer(s) could misinterpret your intentions. This is the general rule of thumb for everyone, U.S. natives included.
UT Police’s Safe Walk Program
The UT police department have a program called Safe Walk, which provides uniformed public safety officers to safely escort you on and around campus upon request. The officers are trained in defensive tactics by the university police department.
Drugs and Alcohol
The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. While it is not illegal to consume alcohol in public spaces, if you choose to do so, use caution. Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is illegal. Even if you aren’t driving, it is not legal to have open containers of alcoholic beverages in the vehicle. People often utilize the apps Lyft and Uber to help get them home safely in these instances. These services will pick you up at your location and drop you off where you need them to for a reasonable fee.
In Texas, no recreational drugs are legal. Sharing or selling your own or someone else’s prescription drugs is illegal. Even if you aren’t using them, having illegal drugs in your possession can result in arrest and legal consequences.Navigating marijuana use and legality in the United States can be confusing and tricky, even for a U.S. native. Marijuana has been fully legalized in California, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C., but is still illegal at the federal level.
It is important for international visitors to know that per federal law, it is illegal for any non-citizen to use or possess marijuana in any capacity, even in the states where it is legalized. Marijuana charges can result in deportation and removal from the U.S. and potentially prevent an international visitor from reentering the U.S. in the future. It also has the potential to affect a future application for permanent residency.
Even though individual states have legalized the medical and recreational use of marijuana, this does not change existing federal, state, and UT Health policies that prohibit the possession, use, and distribution of unlawful drugs by students, employees, and all other visitors on university properties.
If you do have any questions about specific situations (i.e. medical marijuana, etc.) you can speak to an immigration lawyer about your specific questions and/or concerns.
Cigarettes are legal in the U.S. over the age of 18, however there are many places where smoking is prohibited (hospitals, some college campuses, certain restaurants, schools, etc.). Also, many rentals do not allow smoking inside the residence.
Texas Gun Laws
Texas is an open-carry state, which means any licensed gun owner can openly carry their firearm in public spaces. Some spaces, like government buildings, might be gun-free zones.
Campus carry was legalized in Texas in 2015, allowing those with concealed handgun licenses (CHL) to bring their firearm onto campus and into university buildings (but this law does not allow open carry on campus). UT Health San Antonio has institution-specific information on how campus carry affects this campus, as well as maps of all gun-free zones, which can be found on the UT Police website.
Unfortunately, scams are common in the U.S., and some scams do target international visitors. Scams can come in a shapes, sizes, and methods. They will try to get money or personal information from you, so it is important to NEVER give out personal, financial, or immigration-related details to anyone who you cannot identify clearly.
Phone scams are very common, even for U.S. citizens. Many times, scammers have an automated message play when you answer the phone, usually referring to credit scores or unpaid bills. But sometimes, they might threaten you with legal or criminal action saying the authorities will come after you. Unless you have been served any legitimate legal or financial papers from an unquestionable source, it’s probably a scam. They might know your name and basic information about you or your family, and they will try to use that to get money from you. Many scammers leave voicemails as well. If you are unsure of a number that is calling your phone, let it go to voicemail. If they leave a voicemail and you are still unsure if it is legitimate or not, you can contact OIS or UT Police and you will be assisted. Often times, if you google the phone number, you can find forums and comments from others that have received similar calls from that number or person. That’s usually a good indicator of a scam, because they will try to call as many people as possible.
Email scams can sometimes be harder to identify because many scammers can use the logos and contact information from a legitimate source, but in reality, are not a representative. Again, email scams will probably contain minor personal information, but be sure to look for spelling or grammar mistakes, which is often indicative of a scam. They might threaten you, offer you a job, or tell you that there’s a problem with your bank account or immigration status. Again, OIS and UT Police can assist you in identifying these, if needed.
“Junk mail” (paper advertisements and offers that you did not ask for) come to almost every resident with a mailbox. In these stacks of papers can sometimes be letters informing you that you’ve “won” free things, like a cruise or trip, maybe even a car! These, while they might not be scamming you, often require some kind of purchase or commitment to the product they are selling before you can redeem (or sometimes enter a contest) to get this “gift”. Always double check and do some research if you are considering participating in any “free” product or vacation that has been sent you in the mail without your prior knowledge.
- Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Information Blog
- Federal Trade Commission – Pass It On: Common Types of Scams
- Federal Trade Commission YouTube Videos
- Identity Theft Information
- Social Security Administration: Is that a Phone Call from Us?
- SSA: How to Protect Yourself From Scam
- Study in the States: Stay Protected Online Blog Post
- Study in the States: Tips to Avoid Scams Blog Post
- USAgov: Housing and Rental Scams
- USCIS: Commons Scams
You can contact the UT Police for any safety issues on campus.
Non-Emergency: 210-567-2800, option 3