Rice Unconventional Wisdom

OPT "Priority Processing"

OISS is offering "Priority Processing" for early OPT applications for students graduating in May. If you submit the first part of your OPT application to OISS (i.e. OPT Student Form, OPT Faculty Advisor Form & I-765) by Friday, February 2nd, we guarantee that you can get a priority OPT I-20 pick-up appointment during the week of February 12th, which is the earliest time when USCIS will allow you to send in your application.

Here is why applying early is important:

  • If you would like to start work soon after graduation, applying early is the best way to make sure that you can get your EAD in time to begin employment on your requested start date. Please remember that you are not legally authorized to work until you have the EAD in your possession and you are within the validity dates, even in your advisor's lab!
  • Even if your job doesn't start until later, you want to get the EAD early in case you're hoping to travel internationally between graduation and starting your OPT. Leaving the country while your OPT application is pending can be interpreted as you abandoning your application. Therefore OISS strongly discourages travel before you have the EAD. Applying early give your a better chance of receiving your card before or right around graduation, which in turn may offer you more flexibility with your travel plans. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you're planning to travel outside of the U.S. during Spring Break, you may want to wait until after your trip before applying for OPT!

Submit your OPT documents before February 2nd and you're guaranteed a spot in the "Priority Processing" OPT I-20 pick-up appointments! For more information, please see http://oiss.rice.edu/studentwork


Here's a quick reminder of what you need to do by February 2nd to use "Priority Processing":

  1. Attend a CPT/OPT Workshop, or review the F-1 Optional Practical Training Tutorial at http://oiss.rice.edu/studentwork
  2. Submit to OISS a complete packet containing:  

Here's what you don't need to have by February 2nd:

  • Job offer! You can apply for OPT even without a job offer, because you can use OPT to work for any employer in the U.S., as long as the job is related to your major field of study!
  • The check, photos, and copies. You will not need to have these items until the OPT I-20 pick-up appointment, so you'll still have plenty of time to put everything together between February 2nd and the pick-up appointment. 

Contact OISS for more information, and check out http://oiss.rice.edu/studentwork for the OPT materials.