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for International Students

Who Should Change to F-1 Student Visa Status, and Why

There are a number of different reasons that you might want or need to change to F-1 student status. On this page, learn about who should change and why.

If your current status does not permit study

Potential students that are in a visa status that does not permit them to take courses should apply to change to F-1 status before their program begins.

If you are currently on H-4 visa status

If you intend to stay on the H-4 visa rather than switching to F-1, you should not apply to SDSU as an international student. The SDSU Admissions Office will determine your residency status at your time of application. If you plan to change to F-1, it is advisable to do so at the beginning of your program. If you cannot decide whether to stay in H-4 or change to F-1, consider these differences:

  • Residency: F-1s cannot establish residency and therefore must pay an additional non-resident tuition of $372 per unit. With the H visa, you may be able to establish residency in California and may qualify to pay only basic tuition and fees. Learn more about residency from the SDSU Office of the Registrar.
  • Full-time or part-time studies: Do you want to study full time or part time? Keep in mind that F-1s must be full-time students. Those on an H visa can choose to study part time or full time.
  • Employment: Read employment considerations.

Advanced Certificate for Web & Mobile Application Development Program

If you will be studying in this program and want to be eligible for CPT or OPT, you should change to F-1 status before beginning your program.

  • Note: If you choose to remain in status other than F-1 during your first semester, be sure to take 9 units to have the semester count toward the academic year in F-1 requirement. (If you take fewer than 9 units, you will need to take additional courses in the program during a third semester if you want to be eligible for employment.)
  • Applications for a Change of Status can take 3-5 months. Make sure to apply for your Change of Status in time for it to be approved.


If you are in a different status (not mentioned above) and think you might want to change to F-1 status, you should attend a Change of Status Workshop, then make an appointment to talk with an ISC advisor.

Employment considerations

Are you unsure if you should change to F-1 status? Read about employment considerations that might affect your decision.

F-1 student address

If you change to F-1 status, you must have a current U.S. address and permanent home country address in your SDSU webportal at all times.

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