J-1 Exchange Students

Welcome to the Exchange Student Program at SF State!

J-1 Exchange Students

San Francisco State University’s Exchange Student Program provides students from 100+ partner institutions around the world* the opportunity to study at SF State for one or two semesters as non-degree-seeking students. All exchange students come to SF State on university-sponsored J-1 visas.

*Please note, if you are not from one of our exchange partner institutions, you are not eligible for SF State's Exchange Student Program. You are still welcome to apply to SF State as a degree-seeking international student.

What to expect from your exchange at SF State

The Office of International Programs offers exchange students a variety of services as part of their exchange program. Prior to arrival in the US, accepted students receive a welcome packet, which includes an acceptance letter and visa document, as well as guidance on visa applications, health insurance, and additional aspects of the exchange program. Students are also granted a priority enrollment period, which allows them to enroll in up to 16 units of coursework before the main student body. Additionally, exchange students complete an online pre-arrival orientation prior to arrival in order to gain more information about SF State, exchange program requirements, and life in San Francisco. 

Upon arrival at SF State, exchange students attend a 3-day orientation. This orientation is mandatory and covers additional information about US culture, San Francisco State University, visa regulations, and logistics such as transportation and housing. At this time, students also have an opportunity to connect with each other to establish a sense of community and select their International Education Exchange Council (IEEC) commitments. IEEC's goals is "to promote international education, to assist in the internationalization of the SF State campus, and to bring stuents of all nationalities together. All exchange students participate in IEEC as part of their program requirements.

During the semester, exchange students pursue their chosen field of study at SF State. They also enjoy student perks such as gym access, tutoring and health services, and public transportation discounts. Additionally, exchange students receive custmized support from SF State's Exchange Student Advisor.* 

*Due to limited resources, the Exchange Student Advisor may not be available to answer prospective exchange student queries directly. Therefore, prior to acceptance, prospective exchange students should address queries to their home university's study abroad coordinator or visit oip.sfsu.edu for more information. After acceptance, the Exchange Student Advisor will be happy to respond directly to student queries.

Exchange student services and support

SF State's Exchange Student Advisor is Ms. Lily Ferris. She provides the following services:
  • J-1 visa and exchange program advising
  • Academic Advising
  • Referrals to campus resources
  • Advice regarding culture shock, homesickness, and logistical concerns
  • Authorization for on-campus jobs and Academic Training
  • Authorization for international travel 
  • Document signatures
  • 14 hours of in-person, drop-in advising per week (sign-in at front desk required)
  • 72-hour email response time


Office Location

Office of International Programs
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue, VCS-C
San Francisco, CA 94132 USA


Email: exchange@sfsu.edu (please allow 3 business days for a response)
Phone: 1-415-405-4256

Spring 2020 Drop-in Hours (front desk sign-in required)

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 10 am - 12 pm & 2 pm - 4 pm
Wednesday: 2 pm - 4 pm*

*Please note that Lily will no longer be holding drop-in hours on Wednesday mornings.

We provide frequent updates on our website (as well as via iLearn and email for accepted students). Please review the information on this website before contacting us or your home university: http://oip.sfsu.edu/newlyacceptedstudents