Rice Unconventional Wisdom

OS 3 JpegStudent FAQs  

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions. If you cannot find the answer here, please contact us at 713-348-6095 or send an email to oiss@rice.edu. 

Prospective Students 

New Students 

Current Students

- Why do I have to report my address and how can I do it?
- How do I request an appointment with an OISS advisor?
- What are my employment options as a student?
- How do I get a Social Security Number (SSN)?
- Who can help me with my taxes?
- I am a F-1 student who is planning to travel abroad (outside the US). What documents do I need?
- I am a J-1 student who is planning to travel abroad (outside the US). What documents do I need?
- I left the US for travel and forgot to get a travel signature on my documents, what should I do?
- I am planning to travel around the US domestically, what documents do I need?
- How do I request a letter of support from OISS (visa renewal, enrollment letter, DPS proof of on-campus residency, etc.)?
- Will I get a new I-20 if I change my major or program level?
-  I need to drop to part-time status, do I need to do anything with OISS?- 

F-1 Students & OPT 

Prospective Students 

- How do I apply to Rice University? 
Undergraduates wanting to apply to Rice should visit the Admissions webpage. If you still have specific questions that cannot be found on the page above, please feel free to contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office at admi@rice.edu.
 
Graduate students applying to Rice will apply directly with the academic department of interest.  Since each department is in charge of handling its own admissions, requirements, and deadlines, please send your questions directly to the department to which you wish to apply. A list of our graduate departments and their contact information may be found at: http://graduate.rice.edu/programsofstudy. As a general standard, Rice University does not offer conditional admission and proof of English proficiency is required for entry into Rice’s graduate programs. 

New Students 

- When will I receive my I-20?
We begin working on your immigration documents as soon as we have a complete packet.  If we are missing any documents, our office will contact you immediately.  Between the months of April and June our office is handling a very high volume of admissions paperwork and our goal is to get I-20s out as quickly as possible. If you have not received your I-20 by June 15, please contact our office for more information.

- Where can I learn more about my orientation program?
We have multiple orientation programs for students who start their program in the fall semester.  iPREP is for undergraduate students, visiting undergraduate students, and undergraduate exchange students.  International Graduate Orientation is for all graduate students, except for MBAs who have their own International Immersion Week.  To learn about the details of each program, please see orientation section of our website.

- What are the health insurance options for students? 
Health insurance is an important and detailed subject for international students.  You may learn about different options on our health insurance section and we also have a dedicated FAQ.

Current Students

- Why do I have to report my address and how can I do it?
All international students must report a change of address within 10 days of change by updating a valid local address as the place of residence while in the U.S. Failure to do so can result in serious consequences, including the termination of a visa status.
Update your local address in the Mailing Address field in ESTHER. If you do not have a Mailing Address field to update, please email registrar@rice.edu for assistance in creating one.
**If you are on a visa type other than F-1 or J-1, please complete the AR-11 form and submit it to the address indicated on the form as well.

- How do I request an appointment with an OISS advisor?
You can either call us at 713-348-6095 or you can make an appointment by emailing oiss@rice.edu.  If you choose the email option, please be sure to include the following:
1) Your Full legal name
2) Dates & times you are available
3) Contact information - phone number
4) 
Preferred OISS advisor (that you have spoken to or met with previously, if applicable)
5) Reason for appointment

- What are my employment options as a student?
Students on F-1 status have various employment options, such as on-campus employment, CPT, and OPT.  Details about these options can be found on the student work section of our website.  Students may also learn about these options at CPT and OPT workshops - see our events calendar for upcoming dates.

- How do I get a Social Security Number (SSN)?
Students must meet certain eligibility requirements in order to apply for a SSN.  The full details and procedures can be found on the SSN handout.

- Who can help me with my taxes?
Unfortunately, we do not have any tax experts in OISS, as taxes in the U.S. is a very specialized field.  However, the OISS has a variety of resources to assist our international students in filing their taxes.  We offer a software license, GTP, that will help guide students through the process, an annual tax workshop in the spring, and a variety of other resources.  Please see the tax section of our website for full details.

- I am a F-1 student who is planning to travel abroad (outside the US). What documents do I need? 
Students traveling outside the U.S. need to be sure to have all their documents in order, including:
1) I-20 with a valid travel endorsement
2) Passport with at least 6 months validity left
3) Valid visa stamp
For additional guidance from the Department of Homeland Security, click here.  Please note the OISS cannot advise on immigration regulations of other countries.  To learn what documentation you need to enter another country, please visit that country's embassy or consulate.  Please also be sure to update OISS with any new visa stamp or I-94 upon re-entry to the US. 

- I am a J-1 student who is planning to travel abroad (outside the US). What documents do I need? 
Students traveling outside the U.S. need to be sure to have all their documents in order, including:
1) DS-2019 with a valid travel endorsement
2) Passport with at least 6 months validity left
3) Valid visa stamp
Please note the OISS cannot advise on immigration regulations of other countries.  To learn what documentation you need to enter another country, please visit that country's embassy or consulate.  Please also be sure to update OISS with any new visa stamp or I-94 upon re-entry to the US.

- I left the US for travel and forgot to get a travel signature on my documents, what should I do? 
If you forgot to get a travel endorsement on your I-20 or DS-2019, it is best to request one before you return.  If you have time to mail your document back to OISS, we can sign it and return it to you by mail.  OISS may also reprint a new document for you and mail it to you.  If you would like your documents to be sent to you by FedEx, please have a friend come to OISS to pick it up.

- I am planning to travel around the US domestically, what documents do I need? 
When traveling around the US, you should carry your original immigration documents with you, including your I-20 or DS-2019, passport, visa, and I-94.

- How do I request a letter of support from OISS (visa renewal, enrollment letter, invitation letter, etc.)? 
Please complete our online request form for the letter of support that you need. Letters are available for pick-up after 3pm on the following business day. If you need a more complex letter than those available through our online request, please contact OISS at 713-348-6095 to meet with an advisor.

- Will I get a new I-20 if I change my major or program level
Yes, any change to information indicated on your I-20 will require an updated I-20.  Information that is submitted via the Registrar will automatically trigger an update to your immigration documents.  You will be contacted to come pick-up your new document once SEVIS has processed the change. 

-  I need to drop to part-time status, do I need to do anything with OISS? 
Yes, F-1 and J-1 students are required to get approval from OISS prior to dropping below hours.  Please complete the Request for Reduced Course Load (RCL) form and submit to OISS.  After an OISS advisor reviews your petition and it is approved, you will also need to seek the additional approval of the Dean of Undergraduates for undergraduate students or Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) for graduate students.  Please note that F-1 and J-1 students may only drop to part-time for very specific reasons, so not all petitions may be approved.

F-1 Students & OPT 

To learn more about OPT, we encourage students to read the OPT handout and attend an OPT information session held throughout the semester. If you still have questions, please contact OISS to schedule an appointment with an advisor to discuss your specific case.
To request OPT, please complete the required forms as indicated on the OPT handout, submit your complete packet to OISS, and meet with an OISS advisor.
Traveling while on OPT carries a little more risk, so be sure to have all the required documentation.  This includes:
1) Valid I-20 with a travel endorsement
2) Valid passport with at least 6 months validity upon return to the U.S.
3) Valid visa stamp
4) EAD card
5) proof of employment
Additional details regarding travel while on OPT can be found on the Department of Homeland Security's website.

- I am on OPT and need to travel outside the US, but I am not in Houston. How do I get a travel signature?
If you need a travel endorsement and you cannot come to OISS, you may mail your I-20 to our office.  We will be happy to verify your status, sign your documents, and mail them back to you.  If you wish your documents to be mailed back by FedEx or UPS, you may send a prepaid envelope along with your I-20 or you may request a friend to pick up your documents to send back to you.

- I am on OPT and need to apply for a SSN, what is the procedure?
To learn about the SSN application procedure, please see our SSN handout.  Students on OPT will need to present their immigration documents, along with their EAD and employment letter to the Social Security Administration office to apply for a SSN.

- How do I update my OPT status (employment, address, etc.)?
Students on OPT are still on Rice's F-1 visa program.  As such, you are required to continue reporting any change of address or any employment to Rice, so that we may update your SEVIS record.  To submit these updates, please go to our OPT Update Submission website.  Please also be sure to provide OISS with a copy of your EAD card when you receive it.  You may send an electronic copy to the oiss@rice.edu email address.

- How do I apply for STEM OPT extension?
If you would like to apply for STEM OPT or to determine your eligibility for STEM OPT, please read and complete the forms found on our STEM website.  You will need to make an appointment with an OISS advisor to complete the process, and the request must be submitted prior to the expiration of your current OPT.

- My employer has applied for an H-1B for me. How do I apply for a cap-gap extension?
The Cap Gap extension is automatic for students whose H-1B applications are pending or approved before the annual October 1st H-1B start date. It does not require a new I-20, but one may be requested if needed to prove ongoing work authorization to an employer.  Once you have documentation that your H-1B application is pending, please email us at oiss@rice.edu and we can assist you further.