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New Mexico Residency Requirements

A student who enters and remains in New Mexico principally to obtain an education is presumed to continue to reside outside this state. This presumption continues in effect until rebutted by clear and convincing evidence of bona fide residence. The burden of proof is on the student.

A student determined to be financially dependent on a parent or guardian also assumes the residency of that parent or guardian. Nonresident students who believe they have satisfied requirements for establishing New Mexico residency must file a petition with the Office of Admissions accompanied by the appropriate documents of evidence in the manner described in the petition. All documents submitted for this purpose are kept confidential.

To become a legal resident of New Mexico, four basic requirements must be completed by the student. Each person must meet the requirements individually.

  1. The Twelve-Month Consecutive Presence Requirement. A student must physically reside in the state for twelve (12) consecutive months immediately preceding the term for which the student submits his petition. Note: A student cannot begin to complete the 12-month requirement until his/her 18th birthday.
  2. The Financial Independence Requirement. Only persons who are financially independent may establish residency apart from parents or guardians regardless of age. A student who is financially dependent upon his/her parents or legal guardian who are nonresidents of New Mexico cannot be approved for residency. Dependency will be determined according to the 1954 Internal Revenue Service Code, Section 152 and is always based on the previous tax year for residency purposes. At the time the student applies for residency (if under 23 years of age), a copy of his/her parents’ or guardians’ 1040 or 1040A U.S. income tax form for the previous year must be submitted with the application. If the student is shown to be a dependent on this tax form, he/she is not eligible for residency apart from his/her parents or guardian.
  3. The Written Declaration of “Intent” Requirement. The student must sign a written declaration of intent to relinquish residency in another state and to establish it in New Mexico.
  4. The Overt Acts Requirement. New Mexico requires the completion of several “overt” acts which support the student’s declaration of “intent” to become a permanent resident. The required overt acts are evidence of any two of the following:
    1. Securing a New Mexico driver’s license;
    2. Securing a New Mexico automobile registration;
    3. Registering to vote in New Mexico;
    4. Filing a New Mexico state tax return for the previous year; and
    5. Securing employment in the state.

Other relevant factors may be considered along with those itemized above.

Any act considered inconsistent with being a New Mexico resident will cause the request for resident classification to be denied. As such, other relevant factors may be considered in addition to the items listed above. For example, additional documentation which may be requested of the student may include: 1) evidence of a long-established bank account of at least six months in New Mexico, or 2) evidence of residential property ownership in New Mexico or evidence of a rental agreement within the State.

The New Mexico Higher Education Department recognizes that there may be circumstances in which a student would not be able to fulfill the requirements of an overt act as listed in this section, such as: 1) individual is physically disabled and does not have a driver’s license, or 2) individual is a convicted felon and therefore cannot vote, etc. In instances such as these, the institution will afford the student an opportunity to provide other documented evidence or reasonable explanation that demonstrates that permanent residency in New Mexico has been established.

Exceptions to Residency Regulations

The following exceptions apply to the requirements to establish residency:

  1. Marriage. An individual married to a legal resident of New Mexico and providing appropriate evidence shall not be required to complete the 12-month duration requirement, but must satisfy all other requirements.
  2. Work full time. The spouse and dependent children of a person who has moved to New Mexico and has obtained permanent full-time employment (sufficient documentation is required) shall not be required to complete the 12-month durational requirement. However, all other requirements must be satisfied.
  3. Armed Forces. Active duty military stationed in New Mexico, their spouses, and dependents are eligible for waivers of nonresident tuition. A form available from the Admissions and Records Office must be submitted to obtain this waiver.
  4. Retirement. Any person who moves to New Mexico for retirement purposes and/or who provides appropriate evidence of retirement and is at least 65 years of age, shall have an exemption for his or her spouse and dependents in that they shall not be required to complete the 12-month durational requirement. He/she must, however, satisfy the other requirements of residency.
  5. Members of an American Indian nation, tribe or pueblo located wholly or partially in New Mexico, regardless of the residence of the member prior to acceptance at UNM-Valencia.                                                                                                                              
  6. Federal service employees and military personnel who were legal residents of New Mexico prior to entering federal service or the armed forces may retain their New Mexico residency while assigned out of the state so long as they take no action inconsistent with legal residence in New Mexico. Examples of such inconsistent actions are voting in another state, remaining outside New Mexico for an unreasonable time after separation from government service, or establishing another residence.

A brochure explaining all requirements for establishing New Mexico residency and residency petitions is available from the Registrar’s Office, Student Services Center.