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Change to F-1 Student Status

Changing to F-1 Student Status

SDSU international students and applicants often have a visa status other than F-1 student.  Some students are in H-4 visa status, for example, and it is permissible to be a student in that visa status. However, many students find that they want or need to change to F-1 visa status. The ISC offers the following information to help you make that change.


Visa Types: Click here to review the different types of visas.

Apply in your home country or in the U.S.

  • Home country: When you want or need to change to F-1, it’s best to return to your home country to apply for the F-1 visa.  Learn how.
  • U.S. While it is best to return to your home country, you may choose to apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for a change of visa status while you are in the U.S.  Learn how.
    Note that:
  • A change of status will not give you a new visa stamp in your passport and will not allow you to travel and re-enter the U.S.
  • The next time you leave this country, you will be required to apply for a new visa before you will be allowed to re-enter the U.S.
  • Processing time for a change of status application in the U.S. is 8 to 9 months. 

F-1  status requirements and considerations

  • Coursework: To change your status to F-1, you must have coursework (not just thesis or comprehensive exams) remaining in your program of study (unless you must change to F-1 status because you are in F-2 status and approaching your 21st birthday).
  • Employment: Learn about employment considerations related to F-1 status. 
  • Financial ability: You must prove that you have the financial ability to be an F-1 student before you will be issued the I-20 Certificate of Eligibility form.
  • J-1 or J-2 to F-1: If you want to change from J-1 or J-2 to F-1 status, please make an appointment to talk to an ISC advisor.
  • H to F-1:  If you intend to stay on the H visa rather than switching to F-1, you should not apply to SDSU as an international student.


Change of Status Workshops

Currently the ISC is not offering workshops for those who want to change to F-1 visa status. Instead, please contact the ISC to make an appointment with an ISC advisor.

 Tel: (619) 594-1982  |  Fax: 619-594-1973  |  Email: