New Students

I've been accepted

Welcome to City College of San Francisco (CCSF).  The staff at the Office of International Programs look foward to your arrival.

Information below is provided to help you get organized and to make sure you complete all required steps related to your F-1 status.

Download the acceptance package and register for orientation below accordingly.

New Students Currently in Their Home Country


All non-immigrant visitors are required to have a valid visa (*except Canadians) in their passport to be allowed entry into the U.S.

Students applying for initial entry F-1 and F-2 visas may be issued the visas up to 120 days before the academic program start date as noted in item 5 on the I-20.

You may not enter the U.S. earlier than 30 days before the start date noted in item 5 on the I-20 form.  You should make your travel arrangements with this date in mind. The start date is chosen to allow adequte time for you to arrive for the mandatory orientation for the program you applied for.

  • Pay the $200 SEVIS fee to activate your I-20 SEVIS record at

  • Make an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country

  • Visas cannot be issued inside the U.S.

  • If you are living outside the U.S. you must obtain a passport from your government. Next, you must apply for an F-1 student visa. As soon as you receive your I-20, schedule your visa appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for an F-1 visa.

  • Canadian citizens do not need a visa, but simply present the I-20, valid passport, SEVIS fee receipt, financial documentation, and proof of admission from CCSF to the immigration officer at the U.S. port of entry. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State's travel pages.

New Students Transferring SEVIS Record to CCSF


If you are changing schools within the U.S. and transferring your SEVIS record to CCSF, there are visa and travel policies unique to your situation:

  • You must submit the acceptance letter and transfer-in form from CCSF to your current school to request the transfer-out process.  You will not be able to register for classes if your SEVIS record has not been transferred to CCSF.

  • If you plan to travel outside the United States, time the transfer to take this into account. You must re-enter the United States with a Form I-20 for the school that holds the Active or Initial record. Travel should meet the following requirements:

    • Started and completed before the transfer release date with a current Form I-20 from the transfer-out school
    • Started and completed after the transfer release date with Form I-20 from the transfer-in school
  • If you leave the United States before but cannot return until after the transfer release date, CCSF must send you an Initial Form I-20 for re-entry into the United States. You will be required to pay for the $200 SEVIS fee.

  • You can travel with your current F-1 visa and CCSF I-20, even if the visa has your previous school's name on it, as long as the visa is not expired and you are not outside the U.S. more than five months between academic programs.

New Students Changing Visa Status in the U.S.

Change of Status

When you enter the United States in nonimmigrant status, you do so for a specific purpose, such as study, work, or travel. You may enter the U.S. with one purpose and later change your purpose. When this happens, you may need to obtain a new status. Different visa/status categories allow different activities.

If you want to apply to change your status to F-1 status, you must submit an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to apply. This option allows you to change your nonimmigrant status while remaining in the U.S. With this option you may gain the new status but you will not receive a new visa; visas are only issued outside the U.S.

Things to Consider:

  • Processing can be very slow (three to six months), which may jeopardize your ability to begin your new activity such as studying.
  • You must stay in the U.S. during processing; exiting the U.S. cancels the application.
  • You must still obtain a visa stamp to match your status the next time you travel outside the U.S. (except for trips under 30 days to Canada or Mexico)
  • The application may be denied, which could require you to quickly depart the U.S.

You may request an immigration attorney to handle your application. Or, you can submit your own application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by mail:

Mail a paper application ( to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility:


For U.S. Postal Service Regular Mail:
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266

For USPS Express Mail / Express Courier:
ATTN: I-539
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067


USCIS will notify you of their decision with Form I-797 Notice of Action. The I-797 is an important document and should be kept with your passport and I-94 card. The denial letter or approval notice will be mailed to the address listed on Form I-539 in your application. Note that if you change your address, the postal service will not forward mail sent to you by USCIS.  Please provide your ISS adviser with a copy of your I-797/Notice of Action and approval notice.

If your Change of Status to F-1 application is still pending after the program start date printed on your I-20, you must contact our office to deferred the program start date immediately.

Attend the Mandatory Orientation on Arrival


The Office of International Programs at CCSF conducts an orientation for all new and transfer-in international students at the beginning of each semester. This orientation is fully online using CANVAS - an educational support portal used by most students at CCSF. The orientation is designed to acquaint international students on an F-1 status with the F-1 visa regulations, International Student Health Insurance, and registering for classes through the web4 student portal.

  • Academic Program students will also take the placement exam, meet with a counselor, and register for classes.

  • Conditional Admission and Intensive English Program students will also take the placement exam during its own orientation.

Please check your personal e-mails for activation instructions as well as links to the online orientation.


For New Academic Program Students Currently in their Home Country

For New Academic Program Students Transferring to CCSF

For New Academic Program Students Changing to F1 Status in the U.S.

  • Please check your personal e-mail for the details on Online Orientation!

For Conditional Admission or Intensive English Program Students

Please read your acceptance letter carefully for time and location of the mandatory orientation.  Please contact our office should you have any questions or concerns.