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Updates: Hurricane Harvey and Your Safety

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Dear Rice International Students and Scholars,

I am writing an update to let you know that we, in the OISS, are thinking about your during this hurricane and flooding event in the next 2-3 days. Here are a couple of resource links about hurricanes:

https://emergency.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs841/f/AreYouReady-HurricanePreparedness.pdf

https://emergency.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs841/f/AreYouReady-HurricaneChecklists.pdf

Important: Please stay connected to updates on this website: https://emergency.rice.edu/

Below is information on the Fondren Library hours this weekend.

Please know that we, at the OISS, are thinking of you and wanting your safety. Please know that if you have any emergency, you can always contact the Rice University Police (RUPD) at: 713-348-6000.

We will do what we can to help you. Best wishes as you stay safe during this hurricane and flooding event.

We are so grateful you are here with us at Rice!

The OISS team

Subject: Fondren Library hours

I just wanted to reach out to share Fondren Library’s plans for the weekend.

We plan to have the library open, with minimal staffing, both Saturday and Sunday from 12pm (noon) through 6pm.

Since we will have very few library staff coming to campus, entry will be to Rice ID holders only, and through the West (Pavilion) entrance only. We won’t have adequate staff to open the East (Academic Quad) entrance. Faculty, students, and staff will need to bring their IDs to enter through the card readers.

As Hurricane Harvey bumbles about, we will be monitoring developments and updating for library hours next week: through email, our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Current Hurricane Harvey and Your Safety

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Dear Rice International Students and Scholars,

As I am sure all are aware, we are dealing with a major storm in the next few hours. Hurricane Harvey moved quicker into the Texas Gulf Coast than was ever anticipated. Heavy rain and flooding is anticipated for the next 3-4 days.

IMPORTANT: Please keep connected to this website often: https://emergency.rice.edu/

Some important notes to take into consideration for Rice internationals:

1) Do not drive in floods. You need to turn around, as Houston’s floods are extremely dangerous and life-threatening.

2) Do not come to campus when the campus is closed. The streets will be full of cars, so if you can keep from coming at all, it will help you not to get stuck in traffic.

3) Put your immigration and other important documents in a plastic bag, and keep in a safe place in your home.

4) Contact your friends and families at home to let them know how you are. The news can be quite exaggerated in news abroad . . . and it is always frightening for them to see where you are on their news.

5) There are Rice buses for Rice graduate students to go to the Target and Fiesta from 10:00am-3:00pm on Friday, August 25th. They leave from RVA and RGA.

6) Stay tuned to the local news to learn more about ever-changing news on the weather.

7) Review the resources on the Rice emergency website.

8) Please let us know how you are doing. We care about you. Stay connected with friends and loved ones, too.

Thank you for being with us at Rice, and we wish you all the best as you ride out the storm. Stay safe!!

Adria and the OISS Team

International Football Clinic 2017

Friday, July 28th, 2017

The Football Clinic has been cancelled due to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey.

Goooooo Owls!

Ever watch an American football game and felt completely confused?! You’re not alone! To help you learn the rules of football in a fun way, the Rice football team has offered to give the Rice International Community a special night of fun. Each attendee will also receive a free Rice football t-shirt! The event will be held on Thursday, August 31st, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at the Rice Stadium.

We will start off the night with a real Texas tailgate which is an important part of sports in the US. A tailgate party is usually held at the tailgate area of a vehicle, usually a truck, which is where the name comes from. These parties include food and drinks, but are really just a great way to hang out with friends before a game. This is also a great time to paint your face, play some games, and just get pumped up about the upcoming match. While these tailgating parties were initially just for football, you’ll often see them at other sporting events as well. Most commonly, fans will sit out for a few hours before a game in the stadium parking lot grilling hot dogs or hamburgers. For those who do not have tickets to the game, they will often bring a television and watch the game in the parking lot while eating. For our event, we’ll be eating pizza. Regardless of what you eat, it is about the fun community that you build while waiting for the game to start!

After the tailgate, we’ll head into the new football facility to learn the basics of football. You’ll get a chance to learn the terms, the rules, the scoring, and what to watch for in a game. If you want to get a head start to familiarize yourself with the game, take a look at the Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_football.

We’ll finish up the evening by going down to the football field! This is a rare opportunity to enjoy the field all by yourselves. Once on the field, the Rice football team will be there to run drills to show you how everything is run. You’ll get a chance to see the differences between the special teams, offense and defense are which will help clarify all the theoretical explanations from the clinic. Be sure that you wear very comfortable shoes because we’ll be running in the grass, throwing footballs, and learning fancy footwork!

If you would like to join us, you must RSVP, because space will be limited. To sign-up for this event, please click here! See you at the Football Clinic!

By Andy Meretoja

STRIVE – Know Your Rights and Help Others

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Entering the United States as an international student is both exciting and daunting. Many international students will focus on the university’s politics, intellectualism, culture, food, where they will live, etc. What may be missing from the inquisitive minds of our brilliant international students are their rights as a student of Rice University. Just as it is crucial for students to learn about the laws of the United States, it is just as important to read over Rice University’s Student Code of Conduct.

New members of the Rice community may not realize that they are both held to the standards of the university and are given the right to make a complaint if they are feeling mistreated. As a STRIVE (Students Transforming Rice Into a Violence-Free Environment) Liaison, I urge all international students to read through their responsibilities to other students, faculty and staff. More importantly, if you feel that you have been discriminated against in any way; if you are experiencing sexual or domestic abuse, harassment, or pregnancy discrimination, we have help available for you, regardless of your international status.

Please submit any questions you may have to strivegrads@gmail.com. We will help you and we will not share your information to the university without your permission. We will also help you access the resources available to you. If you would like to help students to understand their rights, please consider becoming a STRIVE Liaison. APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN (through February 19, 2017). Liaisons are given training. All students are welcome and encouraged to apply.

By Makiko Hirata, STRIVE Liaison

International Education Week 2016

Monday, November 28th, 2016

The week before Thanksgiving was devoted to International Education, as Rice celebrated International Education Week (IEW) 2016 with a full schedule of events hosted by various departments and offices all across our campus. Here is a little recap of our wonderful week of celebrating international education and the remarkable international population at Rice University:img_4131

• We kicked off IEW on the previous Saturday with an annual tradition, the Mini Soccer World Cup. In this friendly tournament four teams – Africa, Americas, Asia and Europe – competed for fame and the coveted IEW Mini Soccer World Cup trophy! The teams consisted of members across the Rice community, and included international and U.S. citizen students, scholars, and staff members. In the end, the undefeated Team Africa was crowned as the IEW Mini Soccer World Cup Champions 2016

img_4144• OISS hosted an appreciation luncheon for the Presidents of the international students clubs and organizations at Rice. This event, also an IEW tradition, is a wonderful opportunity for OISS to show our appreciation and gratitude for the work these amazing student leaders do for their respective populations. Their efforts benefit not only the students and scholars from their countries, but also the entire Rice community, and International Education Week is the perfect time for OISS to celebrate their commitment to service. We were also honored to have Mr. Kazimir Karwowski, Executive Director of RCEL, as our VIP guest.

• The wonderful Mayra Onuchic from the Brasil@Rice Office hosted Cooking with Brasil@Rice, and taught us how to make delicious Pão de queijo, Brazilian cheese bread. We can’t wait to try this at home!img_2397

• On the Thursday of IEW, OISS invited 80 international students and scholars to join us for a traditional Thanksgiving lunch. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and great conversation as we discussed the history and meaning of Thanksgiving, holiday plans, and other great topics.

• OISS concluded IEW on the Monday after the week officially ended by hosting an International Coffee Break in partnership with the Graduate Student Association (GSA). International student clubs and organizations from Iran, Brazil, Latin America, Korea, China and India provided delicious treats from their countries/regions. It was the perfect way to conclude Rice’s International Education Week.img_4167

In addition to these events, there were many other activities hosted throughout IEW all across campus. For a complete list of events and participating departments and offices, please visit http://oiss.rice.edu/iew. Thank you for an amazing IEW!!

By Andy Meretoja

Let’s spread the “bug”

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

dsc01125If you want to be a part of something really special, you must contribute to society by doing something you are not paid to do.

I could be convinced this was one of the principles the US was founded on because giving back to the community and helping those less fortunate is one of the unique characteristics of the American culture today. I have not heard of a country that committed so deeply as a nation to helping others, nor have I met a more organized community of volunteers and endless opportunities anywhere else.img_1160

You can see people helping out everywhere; in their kids’ school, or in their communities. Perhaps they are building houses for deserving families, serving hot meals or visiting hospitals and nursing homes. They might be donating money to charities, participating in races and raising awareness for issues that matter to them. One could not help but wonder how and why people are willing to offer money they worked so hard for or use their well-deserved free time for benefiting others, but the generosity of the American people is actually beyond the act of kindness and helping others is their way of living.

As the saying goes, volunteering is contagious and once you get the bug it stays with you. This is proven by not only the growing numbers of those who value involvement with volunteer and civic activities, per the research of the Kinder Institute, but also by our own example. Last year OISS and 16 international students and scholars packed thousands of pounds of produce equaling 8,750 meals at the Houston Food Bank, and we plan to do something similar again. img_1152

If you are ready for a meaningful event that gives you pride and satisfaction, and want to experience one of the greatest American traditions, consider joining us on Wednesday, December 21, 2016. As part of OISS’ Winter Events series this year we are committed again to give back to the community and make a difference the American way.

Take this opportunity to contribute to society, and enrich your cultural experience, guaranteed!

By Agnes Vajtai

Football Clinic 2016

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Goooooo Owls!

Ever watch an American football game and felt completely confused?! You’re not alone! To help you learn the rules of football in a fun way, the Rice football team has offered to give the Rice International Community a special night of fun. Each attendee will also receive a free Rice football t-shirt! The event will be held on Saturday, August 20th from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at the Rice Stadium.

We will start off the night with a real Texas tailgate which is an important part of sports in the US. A tailgate party is usually held at the tailgate area of a vehicle, usually a truck, which is where the name comes from. These parties include food and drinks, but are really just a great way to hang out with friends before a game. This is also a great time to paint your face, play some games, and just get pumped up about the upcoming match. While these tailgating parties were initially just for football, you’ll often see them at other sporting events as well. Most commonly, fans will sit out for a few hours before a game in the stadium parking lot grilling hot dogs or hamburgers. For those who do not have tickets to the game, they will often bring a television and watch the game in the parking lot while eating. For our event, we’ll be eating pizza. Regardless of what you eat, it is about the fun community that you build while waiting for the game to start!

After the tailgate, we’ll head into the brand new football facility to learn the basics of football. We will split up into two groups: Offense and Defense. After your “lesson,” you’ll switch places to learn about the other side! That means that if you start on the Offense side, after you learn the rules of how to play on the offense, you’ll go to another room afterward to learn about how to play defense! You’ll get a chance to learn the terms, the rules, the scoring, and what to watch for in a game. If you want to get a head start to familiarize yourself with the game, take a look at the Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_football.

We’ll finish up the evening by going down to the football field! This is a rare opportunity to enjoy the field all by yourselves. Once on the field, the Rice football team will be there to run drills to show you how everything is run. You’ll get a chance to see the differences between the special teams, offense and defense are which will help clarify all the theoretical explanations from the clinic. Be sure that you wear very comfortable shoes because we’ll be running in the grass, throwing footballs, and learning fancy footwork!

If you would like to join us, you must RSVP. Sign-up for this event has been closed! Please note that only the first 200 to RSVP will be allowed in. See you there!

By Andy Meretoja

Houston Rodeo Starting From March 1

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

 

This year’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (also called Rodeo Houston) is starting on March 1st. Houston’s Rodeo is one of the largest Rodeos in the world, attracting 2.5 million attendees, and it is considered to be the city’s signature event. 

Rodeo is a fun entertainment event which typically has sports shows such as bareback riding, tie-down roping and barrel racing. It also holds concerts by world-famous different artists everyday, which attracts tens of thousands of people by itself. It also has unique events such as Bar-B-Que Contest or Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition before the official start. Rice University also joined City of Houston and celebrated Rodeo Houston on Friday, February 27th with Go Texan Day where people are encouraged to dress in Western attire (boots, jeans, etc). 

Rodeo is not just for entertainment but it is also a huge agricultural business opportunity. The Houston Livestock Show is the largest one in the world. During the 2014 Show, there were more than 29,000 livestock and horse show entries recorded. Exhibitors bring everything from cattle, rabbits, sheep and goats, and they compete on the quality of their products. 

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is held from March 1st to March 20th in 2016 at Reliant Stadium. For more information, visit http://www.rodeohouston.com/

Let’s put on your Western clothes and go see the real cowboys!                                                                                                                                      photo

 

Filing Your Taxes

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

 

Every international student, scholar and their dependents (including spouses and children of all ages) are required to file tax if they were present in the US for any length of time in 2015. The deadline for filing your tax forms with the US government is April 18th (Mon), 2016. You must mail your completed forms and supporting documentation, as required, by that date.

OISS has purchased enough number of licenses for an online software called Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) which is designed to assist internationals (non-resident aliens for tax purpose) with tax filing. The software will be available at OISS beginning March 9th (Mon). Please stop by at OISS and sign-up for the license. You need to pay $2 license fee (cash only).

Tax filing can be confusing, but we at OISS want to do what we can to make the process easier. Below are some tips and resources for filing taxes.

Step1: Determine your Tax Residence Status

International students and their dependents on F-1/F-2 and J-1/J-2 visas are automatically considered non-resident aliens for their first 5 calendar years in the US, and scholars (and their dependents) on J visas are automatically considered non-residents for their first 2 calendar years in the US. However, there are exceptions. Substantial Presence Test will be the formula to determine if you should be taxed as a resident or nonresident alien.

If you are non-resident alien, you may use Glacier Tax Prep (GTP) software to complete the forms.  Please purchase the software license at OISS (beginning March 9th).

If you are resident alien for tax purpose, GTP unfortunately will not be able to help. You may check out IRS Free File (tax preparation software) information https://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free or use any software or tax filing service firms that is commonly used by U.S. citizens.

Step2: Determine if you have taxable income from U.S.

You have to report any U.S. source income including wages, scholarship, fellowship and stipend. For non-resident aliens, bank interests are not taxable.

If you did not receive any income during 2015, you may only need to complete the Form 8843.  Glacier Tax Prep software can assist you with this determination.

If you received any income during 2015, you may need to complete the Form 8843 and Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Glacier Tax Prep software can assist you with this determination and to complete the forms. Tax filing is not mandatory if your income is less than $4,000, however you still must complete Form 8843.

Step3: Make sure you received all the necessary supporting documents

You may receive following documents:

  •  W-2 form – You will need W-2 from each employer you had in 2015. If you worked for Rice, W-2s are available through your ESTHER account after January 31or it will be mailed to you if you are no longer with Rice.
  • 1042-S form – Foreign nationals may receive a 1042-S if they are recipients of tax treaty benefits, scholarships or fellowships from nontax treaty countries. 1042-S forms are picked up from Payroll or may be available online if you have signed up with Payroll’s FNIS

Step4: Create your tax forms

If you are non-resident alien and you have income to report, we advise you to use Glacier Tax Prep software.

The system will tell you if you owe taxes or if the government owes you a refund. If you need to pay to the government, the best option is to enclose a check with your tax documents.

If you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), you will need to apply for ITIN and submit the application Form (W-7) together with your tax return.  For details on how to apply for ITIN, please see our website http://oiss.rice.edu/tax

Step 5: Mail your tax forms

Once you complete the forms, sign and mail them to the address below with the supporting documents (except when you are enclosing payment).

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, Texas, 73301-0215

If you are applying for ITIN at the same time, you need to go to the local IRS office and submit your tax return there.

Make sure to keep copies of all your tax forms before you send.

Step 6: How to follow-up with your tax return

To check the status of your tax return, go to the IRS website https://www.irs.gov/Refunds
Please note that tax return for non-resident alien takes very long time. If there is any additional documents required, IRS will notify you by mail only. IRS would never try to reach you by phone or e-mail. Please be aware of scams and never give your Social Security Number (SSN) to anyone by phone or e-mail.

Additional resources available on the OISS website: http://oiss.rice.edu/tax

 

Letters of support for DPS – Driver’s license and Texas ID

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Letter for DPS to verify on-campus address:

Students needing to provide evidence of residency for the purpose of applying for a Texas driver’s license or Texas ID may request supporting documentation as listed below. If you have any questions regarding letters of support for DPS, please contact OISS at 713-348-6095 or by email at oiss@rice.edu.

If you live on campus, you can request a letter of verification of your local address for the 30 day residency requirement from the Office of Housing & Dining. Please email your request to the following address:

– If you live in one of the Residential Colleges, please email David McDonald at dm7@rice.edu.
– If you live in Rice Graduate Apartments, please email gradapts@rice.edu.
– If you live in Rice Village Apartments, please email rvapts@rice.edu.
– If you live off-campus, please see a list of acceptable residency documents on the DPS website (http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/).

Thank you!

OISS

 

 
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