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1. Decide if you want to meet locally or in Washington, DC and if you’ll be bringing colleagues and/or students with you.
2. Call the office where you would like to meet to find out how they take meeting requests. Some members of Congress will have a standardized meeting request form or special scheduling email address which can expedite the process.
3. Draft a letter or email to the member of Congress.
- State you are a constituent from your state/district, and include your contact information. Include who else will be joining you for the meeting.
- Explain the issue you would like to focus on in your meeting and why it is important to you. It’s best to only pick one or two issues to discuss. You can add policy resources from www.nafsa.org/policy. This could include issue briefs, infographics, or economic data (www.nafsa.org/economicvalue) to help explain the issue.
- Plan ahead and research when Congress is in session and working in Washington, DC versus when they are in recess, which is when your member of Congress is most likely to be in the district or state. You can find the congressional Senate schedule at www.senate.gov/legislative/2017_schedule.htm and the House schedule at www.house.gov/legislative.
- Suggest times that work for you to meet with the member of Congress and the staff.
4. Follow up to confirm a date and time.
- If you do not get a response to your meeting request within a week, follow up with a phone call and ask to speak to the scheduler.
- If you are meeting on Capitol Hill, know that schedules frequently change at the last minute due to the unpredictable policy environment. Make sure the staffer you are meeting with has contact information for you (cell phone and/or email), and be flexible and ready for changes.
Sample Meeting Request
The Honorable [MEMBER’s FIRST AND LAST NAME]
[OFFICE ADDRESS OF WHERE YOU WANT TO MEET]
Dear Representative/Senator [LAST NAME OF MEMBER]:
I am writing to request a meeting with you to discuss international students and scholars and the policies we need to make the United States more welcoming and globally engaged.
As a constituent and a university professional on the frontlines of working with these students, I see firsthand how critically important our immigration policies are to presenting a welcoming environment for these students who enrich our local communities in numerous ways, including significant economic contributions. In fact, international students bring $[ADD ECONOMIC VALUE FOR YOUR STATE OR DISTRICT FROM WWW.NAFSA.ORG/ECONOMICVALUE] according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
I would be grateful if you and the staff members who handle immigration and education issues are able to participate in this meeting. I am available on [DATES AND TIMES]. Please let me know what time works well for you and the appropriate staff members who handle these issues.
The names of the attendees are as follows: [ADD NAMES OF ANYONE ELSE JOINING YOU IN THE MEETING. NOTE IF THEY ARE STUDENTS.]
I appreciate your time and look forward to scheduling a meeting for you to meet us as constituents on [REPEAT DATE RANGE OF AVAILABILITY].
YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION]