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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.

The International Student Center recommends that you consult an immigration attorney to help you determine whether you should apply to change your status in the U.S. or in your home country.

  • U.S.:  Instead of applying for the new F-1 visa in your home country, you might choose instead to apply for a change of visa status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) while you are in the U.S. Learn how to apply for change of status in the U.S.
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 the U.S., you will be required to apply for a new visa before you will be allowed to re-enter the U.S.
  • USCIS processing times change regularly, but currently a change of status application in the U.S. is taking 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 to apply for a change of status.
  • 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.