New International Students

Welcome to San Francisco State University (SF State)!

I’m Admitted, Now What?

Accept Admission Offer (AAO) in your online Student Center at within 2 weeks after you receive admission.  F-1 International students are NOT REQUIRED to submit the $100 non-refundable enrollment confirmation deposit. Continue by clicking on the “Confirm Accept” button to complete the process.

Accept Admissions Offer (AAO)

All F-1 Visa International students must arrive in San Francisco by Monday, August 19, 2019

Date Event
Thursday, August 15, 2019 New Graduate Student Orientation  (hosted by Division of Graduate Studies)
Monday, August 18 to August 25 2019 GatorFest 

Monday, August 19, 2019

  • I-20 program start date - all F-1 students must arrive in San Francisco by this date
  • Deadline to Complete: F-1 Mandatory Online Workshop
  • Deadline to Complete: Write to Register (Undergraduate Students only)
  • On-Campus Housing Move-in Day

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

  • F-1 Document Check-in (Undergraduate Students Only)
  • International Graduate Orientation and Document Check-in (Graduate Students Only)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Welcome Party and Information Fair (hosted by the Office of International Programs)
Thursday, August 22, 2019 New Undergraduate Student Orientation and Class Registration (hosted by New Student Programs)

Monday, August 26, 2019

First Day of Fall 2019.  Tuition deadline for new F-1 International students.
Saturday, December 22, 2019  Last Day of Fall 2019

See Fall 2019 academic calendar  on SF State Registrar's website.

Complete Fall 2019 Steps to Enroll.

*The information in the "Steps to Enroll" is subject to change.  Please check this website regularly for update.

All incoming undergraduate students must attend the New Student Orientation in order to receiving academic advising and register for classes.  Orientation sessions are available in June, July, and August - see a list of Orientation dates at New Student Program's website.  

If you are an Upper Division transfer student from a U.S. college or university, you are encouraged to attend one of the Summer transfer orientation in June.  All other students are encouraged to attend the orientation on Thursday, August 22.

You must register and pay $35 fee for the New Student Orietation.  The registration system only accept credit/debt card payment.  No cash.  

Register for New Student Orientation

International students in other U.S visa types (for example: H-4, J-2, L-2....etc) or students who are foreign educated can attend the New Student Orientation on August 22 as this orientation is designed for students who have received high school or college education outside the U.S.  Non-F-1 students are not required to attend the F-1 Document Check-In nor complete the F-1 Mandatory Online Workshop.

Before Leaving Your Home Country

A citizen of a foreign country who wishes to study in the United States must first obtain a F-1 Student visa.  F-1 visas are issued by U.S. Embassies and Consulates outside the United State, and it is not possible to obtain an F-1 visa within the United States.

Canadian citizens do not need visas to study in the U.S. However, Canadian students do need to obtain an I-20 from SF State and pay I-901 SEVIS Fee at I-901 fee website. Canadian students should enter the U.S. with their passports, I-20 issued by SF State, and other supporting documentation.  

Here is a list of useful resources:

F-1 visa is a ticket for F-1 students to enter the United States.  The expiration date shown on your F-1 visa does not reflect how long you are authorized to stay within the United States.  You can stay in the United States on an expired F-1 visa as long as you maintain your student status. However, if you are returning home or traveling to a country where automatic revalidation does not apply, you must have a valid visa to return to the United States.

F-1 Pre-Arrival and Post-Arrival Checklist

Download the F-1 Pre-Arrival and Post-Arrival Checklist (PDF, 383KB)

When to Arrive

All F-1 students should plan to arrive by the program start date (August 19, 2019) on the I-20.  If this is your first time to study in the United States and you have an "Initial Attendance" I-20, you can only enter the United States, within 30 days of the I-20 start date.  If you are transferring from another SEVP-certified school in the U.S. and have a Transfer Pending I-20 from SF State, you are not subject to the 30-day rule. However, you must arrive in San Francisco early enough to attend the F-1 Welcome Check-in and New Student Orientation for Undergraduate and Graduate Students.

What to Expect at the Airport

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s Study in the States website has information about What to Expect at a Port of Entry with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer.

Airport Transportation

San Francisco Airport (SFO) and Oakland Airport (OAK) both serve many international airlines.  San Francisco International Airport is the closest international airport to San Francisco State University. 

Fall 2019 tuition deadline: Monday, August 26, 2019 at 4PM (San Francisco Time)

Tuition is paid one semester at a time.  We recommend new international students to pay tuition while they are still in their home countries to avoid delay of class registration and/or late fee.  The amount of the tuition should cover full-time enrollment (regardless which class you are going to enroll).  For example, if you are a F-1 International undergraduate student, you should pay at least $8,381 to cover 12 units.  Graduate students should pay for at least 8 units.

Below is a current tuition chart for Undergraduate, Graduate, and MBA/MSA students per semester.  Students are advised to visit Bursar’s website for the most current information on tuition, registration fee, and important deadlines. Bursar’s website also provide a list of payment methodsIf you wish to pay tuition by installment plan. Please be aware that there is a non-refundable service charge of 15% on each installment.

SF State has partnered with flywire to streamline the tuition payment process for our international students.  SF State collects international payments via Flywire with local accounts around the world.  Flywire processes payments securely, typically in your home local currency.  You can make payments from any country, any bank, save on bank fees and exchange rates, and track your payments from start to when it reaches your school’s account. 

Visit Bursar's International payments information for more details.  

Undergraduate Students (Per Semester)

Number of Units Undergraduate Tuition Fee Non-Resident Tuition (per unit) Total Tuition Cost
12 units (Full-Time) $3,635 $396 per unit $8,387
13 units  $3,635 $396 per unit $8,783
14 units  $3,635 $396 per unit $9,179
15 units  $3,635 $396 per unit $9,575
16 units  $3,635 $396 per unit $9,971

Graduate Students (Per Semester)

Number of Units Graduate Tuition Fee Non-Resident Tuition (per unit) Total Tuition Cost
8 units $4,352 $396 per unit $7,520
9 units $4,352 $396 per unit $7,916
10 units $4,352 $396 per unit $8,312
11 units $4,352 $396 per unit $8,708
12 units $4,352 $396 per unit $9,104

MBA/MSA Students (Per Semester)

Number of Units Graduate Tuition Fee and graduate program fee Non-Resident Tuition (per unit) Total Tuition Cost
8 units (Full-Time) $5,552 $666 per unit $10,880
9 units  $5,552 $666 per unit $11,546
10 units $5,552 $666 per unit $12,212
11 units $5,552 $666 per unit $12,878
12 units $5,552 $666 per unit $13,544

** Please note that tuition cost include local registration fees and non-resident tuition and are subject to change.

In addition to the full-time tuition, please budget at least USD $1800 to purchase the SF State sponsored insurance before class registration. 

All international students in F-1 status are required to have the SF State sponsored insurance during their period of enrollment at SF State.

The CSU makes every effort to keep student costs to a minimum. Fees listed in published schedules or student accounts may need to be increased when public funding is inadequate. Therefore, CSU must reserve the right, even after fees are initially charged or initial fee payments are made, to increase or modify any listed fees. All listed fees, other than mandatory systemwide fees, are subject to change without notice, until the date when instruction for a particular semester or quarter has begun. All CSU listed fees should be regarded as estimates that are subject to change upon approval by the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor, or the Presidents, as appropriate. Changes in mandatory systemwide fees will be made in accordance with the requirements of the Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act (Sections 66028 - 66028.6 of the Education Code).

Expenses Upon Arrival

Some of the initial expenses you will encounter include your books, university fees and tuition, living cost, temporary housing costs, and local travel expenses. Do not bring a lot of cash - we recommend that you use travelers’ checks in U.S. dollars as they can be easily replaced if lost or stolen. If you have a bank account with a debit card or credit account at home, you should be able to withdraw money from an ATM in the U.S.

Expenses often overlooked by new international students

  1. Overnight lodging: Hotel charges in big cities are very high-anywhere from $150-$200/night
  2. Tips: Tips on taxi fares and restaurant meals: It is customary to add 15% to the bill
  3. Taxes: State and local sales taxes added to the price of many items or services. Consumer taxes vary from state to state. The sales tax in San Francisco is 8.5%. This means if the price tag says US$10, you will need to pay US$10.85
  4. Personal and household items: In furnished and unfurnished apartments, you will have to purchase linens, towels, kitchen utensils, etc.

Money Matters

You may bring a bank draft or a check for deposit in an account you will be opening at a local bank. However, it may take as long as 4-6 weeks to access your funds at the local banks. While you are waiting for your bank draft to clear, your money will not be available for you to use. If you did not pay tuition while you are in your country, make sure you have access to adequate amount of money SOON after your arrival so you can pay the tuition and all initial expenses.

California State law requires that all university students must be immunized against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR). Students who are 18 years of age or younger are also required to be immunized against Hepatitis B.  

You should provide proof of the above immunization to SF State Registrar’s Office before coming to San Francisco.  Registrar’s Office will accept your own immunization in English, or your record attached with an English translation. You can also submit the Immunization Form signed by your medical doctor.  Submit the immunization record by the following methods:

  1. By mail: Mail a photocopy of your own immunization record to Registrar's Office (SSB 303), San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132.
  2. By fax: Fax your immunization record to +1-415-338-0588.
  3. In person: Bring immunization record to Registrar’s counter located at One Stop, Student Services Building (SSB), first floor. Write your 9-digit SF State student ID on your immunization record. DO NOT EMAIL the immunization record to SF State. 

An "MMR immunization" registration hold will be placed on your Student Center if you fail to submit the immunization record to the Registrar’s Office by September 23, 2019.  This hold will prevent you from registering for future classes.

All incoming new F-1 International Student must complete the F-1 Mandatory Online Workshop on iLearn.  The F-1 Mandatory Online Workshop covers important topics such as:

  • Getting started at SF State
  • F-1 immigration regulations
  • Navigating the campus resources at SF State
  • Getting to know San Francisco
  • Culture shock and U.S. classroom culture
  • Sexual assault awareness & safety explained for International Students
  • Academic Integrity
  • California Driver's License and Identity Card
  • Earthquake Preparedness
  • SF State facts and how to get involved with the SF State community

Only students who have accepted admissions offer (AAO) will have access to this Mandatory Online Workshop.  You can log in to the workshop here.  

SF State requires all undergraduate students to fulfill oral communication and written English requirements in order to graduate.  To determine which written English class you should enroll in your first semester at SF State, complete the online Write to Register (WTR)  to get course recommendation. 

We suggest you to complete WTR as soon as you can.  The deadline to complete WTR is 2 days before the New Student Orientation.  For example, if you have registered for the New Student Orientation on August 22, you must complete WTR by August 19.  Print out the English course recommendation after completing WTR and bring it with you to the New Student Orientation.

Based on your performance in the WTR, you might be recommended to take English courses offered by the Composition for Multilingual Students (CMS) Program.  The CMS program is a University-wide undergraduate program through which non-native English speakers can fulfill undergraduate oral communication and written English graduation requirements.

Certain transfer undergraduate students may not need to complete WTR.  Visit the Developmental Studies Office  to determine if you should complete WTR. Email the Developmental Studies Office at if you have questions.


Logon to Write to Register

SF State requires all undergraduate students to fulfill Quantitative Reasoning (Math) requirements in order to graduate.  Information for how to determine which Math class to enroll in for your first semester is coming soon.  Meanwhile you can contact the Developmental Studies Office at if you have questions about SF State's math requirement.

Having insurance while studying in the U.S. can avoid the financial challenges of unexpected medical expenses, and to ensure that you have access to immediate and proper medical care when you need it.  The Board of Trustees of the California State University (CSU) requires all F-1 international students to have health insurance as a condition of registration and continued enrollment in the California State University system. 

At SF State, F-1 International students are required to satisfy the mandatory insurance requirement through purchase of the SF State sponsored insurance.  We recommend you to purchase insurance online before arriving the U.S.  Insurance coverage for new students starts as early as August 1.

Purchase SF State Health Insurance

Arriving in San Francisco

Bring your passport and current I-20 to one of the document check in sessions on August 20.

Attention Undergraduate Students!  
Each session is limited to 60 students only.  First-come first-serve.  If you are late or the session is full, you will have to attend the later session. 

FALL 2019 F-1 Document check-in
Date Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Location J. Paul Leonard Library, Event Room 121 (First floor)
International Graduate Orientation and Document Check in
(Graduate Students Only)
9:00AM – 10:30AM
Undergraduate Students Only:
11:00AM – 12:00PM (Session 1)
1:00PM – 2:00PM (Session 2)
2:00PM – 3:00PM (Session 3)
3:00PM – 4:00PM (Session 4)

Incoming F-1 Graduate students should attend the following orientations:

New Graduate Student Orientation Fair on Thursday, August 15:  This New Graduate Student Orientation Fairis hosted by Division of Graduate Studies.  You will learn about various academic policies that apply to Graduate students at SF State.  If you will arrive San Francisco before August 15 please register to attend the New Graduate Student Orientation Fair.

FALL 2019 New Graduate Student Orientation (Hosted by Division of graduate studies)
Date Thursday, August 15
Location Jack Adams Hall, Cesar Chavez Student Union
Time 2:00PM to 6:00PM

International Graduate Orientation and Document Check-In on August 20: If you are not able to attend the New Graduate Student Orientation Fair on Thursday, Augsut 15, please be sure to attend the International Graduate Orientation and Document Check-In on August 20.  Representatives from the Division of Graduate Studies will discuss graduate studies policies and procedures as they pertain to international students studying at SF State. Bring your passport and I-20 with you.  Registration is not requried.

FALL 2019 International Graduate Orientation and Document Check-In (hosted by the office of international programs)
Date Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Location J. Paul Leonard Library, Library Event Room 121 (First Floor)
Time Arrive by 9AM

Graduate students can register for classes before attending the orientation.  All F-1 graduate students must register for at least 8 units (full-time) per F-1 immigration regulations.  Also, only 3 units of the online classes can be used to satisfy the 12 units full-time course load. 


This is a free event.  Light breakfast will be served.

FALL 2019 welcome party and information fair
Date Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Student Life Event Center (Annex I) See map (PDF, 603KB).  

*Parking is not available outside the event center. Please use paid parking in Lot 20 or Lot 25 or street parking on Lake Merced Boulevard. Be sure to check the street cleaning sign before you park.

Time Arrive by 9AM

You will receive academic advising and register for classes during the New Student Orientation.  All F-1 undergraduate students must register for at least 12 units (full-time) per F-1 immigration regulations. Also, only 3 units of the online classes can be used to satisfy the 12 units full-time course load.  

You must register and pay $35 fee for the New Student Orietation.  The registration system only accept credit/debt card payment.  No cash.  

Register for New Student Orientation

FALL 2019 new student orientation
Date Thursday, August 22, 2019
Location To Be Announced
Time To Be Announced
GatorFest is a University welcome program for all incoming SF State Students hosted by New Student Program.  Check out 2019 GatorFest! website for most updated event schedule. 

Settling down

It is important to make sure that your personal information such as your name, email accounts, U.S. addresses and emergency contacts are correct in your Student Center.  If there are any changes in your personal information, you must update your Student Center within 10 days.

Update your SF Student Center today!  Download the instruction (PDF, 740KB)

Temporary Housing after Arriving San Francisco

OIP is not able to assist students in finding temporary housing.  We recommend that you reserve temporary accommodations before you arrive in San Francisco.  First and foremost, you should have a specific destination when you arrive.  If you do not have a friend or relative in the area to stay with, booking a hostel or hotel in advance is the best option.

It is not feasible to attempt to find permanent housing immediately after getting off a plane, with your luggage, and no knowledge of the city.

A list of short term housing is available at SF State Housing website.  Please note the University is not associated with any of these temporary housing options, nor does the University take responsibility for any of the businesses or referrals listed here.  OIP cannot make any recommendations nor can reservations be made on your behalf. 

On-Campus Housing

If you are interested in living on-campus, it is imperative that you apply as early as possible, as space is limited and the demand is high.  On-Campus housing information can be found at SF State Housing.

You do not need to wait until you are admitted to apply for on campus housing.  As long as you have a SF State student ID and password you will be able to complete the online housing application.

Off-Campus Housing

If you wish to live off campus, visit SF State Housing Off-Campus Housing resources.  New students who join the the new students Facebook group will be able to post messages regarding housing. Students can meet other students who are looking for housing or roommates at orientation.  It may take anywhere from 1-3 weeks on average searching for off-campus permanent housing.

San Francisco houses and apartments come in various architectural styles (Victorian, modern, etc.), many sizes (studios, 1-2-3 bedrooms, etc.) and also come unfurnished or furnished. There are a number of options for living situations, such as:

  • Sharing an apartment or house with roommates of your choice
  • Renting an apartment by yourself
  • Renting a room from tenants in an established household with shared common areas
  • Renting a room with an American family

Housing Hunting Tips:

Trust your gut

If you meet a landlord or roommate and s/he seems untrustworthy, asks you for bizarre documents that you would be uncomfortable providing, or gives you a general bad feeling, then do not rent that apartment or room.

Typically, your instincts in those situations are correct.

Like many big cities, San Francisco has landlords that may not be reliable. Although you have plenty of rights and protections as a tenant, we do not want you to have an unpleasant living experience or tense relations with roommates or landlords while you're here.

Don’t rush

Although we understand what a stressful time your first few weeks in San Francisco can be between orientation, the beginning of the semester, and house-hunting, don’t feel compelled to take the very first apartment you see. You will get a feel for things after you see a few places and can determine what a quality apartment at a reasonable price in the Bay Area looks like.

Get everything in writing!

In order to protect yourself from scams or less-than-honest landlords or master tenants, it is a good idea to document all the details of your living situation as soon as an agreement is reached. For example, if your landlord or new roommate (master tenant) quotes you a monthly rent which includes the cost for water and utilities, have them write up a contract stating the conditions of the lease for each of you to sign before you move in.

San Francisco Tenants' Union

The San Francisco Tenants' Union is a community organization that exists as a resource for tenants to educate themselves about their rights concerning such issues as security deposits, evictions, landlord harassment, roommates, repairs, and rent increases, etc.  

Understand the neighborhood in San Francisco

The best way to determine the neighborhood for you is to spend some time there. Get a meal, go to a café, and walk or bike around to get a sense of that neighborhood before committing to anything.

See San Francisco Neighborhood Guide.


Advice from current International students:

"Get to San Francisco a week before orientation to start looking for housing because looking during orientation week can be stressful."

"Find a cheap hostel to stay in so you can stay there for a while if you do not find housing."

"Find a house in a well-connected area (in terms of public transportation)."

"Make sure you find housing you are really comfortable with and feel at home in—that is important! I was terribly home sick until I moved; now, I don’t want to leave!"

"Start looking for home before you get to San Francisco."

"Look for housing early, and do not despair if it does not go well in a week; every day brings better opportunities."

"Live with roommates, not on your own."


The cost to seek a U.S. college education while living in the Bay Area can be expensive. This page strives to provide students with alternative opportunities to help fund their education while studying at San Francisco State. Visit Financial Assistance for a list of SF State and out of campus scholarships and grants.

If you are currently in the U.S. and wish to change your current immigration status to F-1, please visit Change of Status to F-1 for instructions to change status. 

Per federal regulations, B-1 and B-2 visitors who are in the United States for business and pleasure purposes are prohibited from enrolling in a course of study at a U.S.Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.  If you are a B-1 or B-2 visitor and wish to study at a U.S. school, you must change your B-1 or B-2 status to F-1 Student status.

If you are currently in the U.S. and hold an I-20 from another U.S school, you must request your SEVIS record to be transferred to SF State.  See I-20 Transfer Procedures.