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for International Students

Who Should Change to F-1 Student 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

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

If you are currently a spouse in H-4 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 fee: F-1s cannot establish residency and therefore must pay an additional non-resident tuition fee of $396 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.

If you are currently 20 years old in a dependent status

If you are a child in dependent status studying at SDSU, then your dependent status ends on your 21st birthday. You will need to change to F-1 status before this happens and should meet with an ISC advisor at least 9 months before your 21st birthday to allow plenty of time to change your status.  

Advanced Certificate for Web & Mobile Application Development Program

If you will be studying in this program and want to be eligible for off-campus practical training (CPT and OPT), you should change to F-1 status before beginning your program.

  • Note: If you choose to remain in a status other than F-1 for the first semester and change your status in the second semester, you must enroll full-time both semesters so they will count toward the academic year in F-1 requirement for practical training eligiblity.
  • Applications for a Change of Status can take 8 to 9 months. Be sure to apply for your Change of Status early enough 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 make an appointment to talk with an ISC advisor.

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