If you have been accepted to Emory University, are currently in the United States as a nonimmigrant, and wish to change to F-1 student status you have two options:
Travel: You may choose to leave the United States, obtain an F-1 entry visa, and re-enter the United States in F-1 status. In order to become an F-1 student via travel, you will need to obtain Form I-20 issued for "initial attendance" (from Admissions if you are a new student; from your International Student Advisor if you are a current student) and meet all requirements to apply for a visa. If you are visiting a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of your home country, please contact the Embassy or Consulate directly to confirm that they accept applicants who are not citizens of that country (known as "third country nationals") and consult with an International Student Advisor prior to departure to discuss the benefits and risks of applying outside your home country.
Petition from within the United States: Submit Form I-539 and supporting documentation to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change your status from within the United States. Your student status is not granted until you receive an I-797 approval notice (with I-94 card attached to the bottom) and an I-20 stamped for approval. Typically, USCIS processing times for I-539 forms are between four and six months. Please contact ISSS immediately if you need to process a change of status.
While most students prefer to submit the paper Form I-539 in consultation with their advisor, it is also possible to make use of the USCIS Electronic Immigration System and apply for the change of status completely online. If you choose this option, please follow the instructions very carefully. ISSS does not have access to your online account and cannot assist you with the online process. Do note that you will still need a new Form I-20 issued for the purpose of change of status from ISSS before you can use the online process.
If you choose to remain in the country and file a change of status (COS) with USCIS, please understand that you will not be eligible for any benefits related to student status until the change of status has been approved.
For this reason, most students find it more expedient to become an F-1 student through travel. ISSS recommends this option whenever possible. Please note that if you are a J-1 Exchange visitor currently subject to the Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement, you may not change your status to F-1 from within the United States. You may do so only at the discretion of a U.S. consular official by applying for an entry visa outside of the United States.
Please use the links on the left navigation bar for more information about obtaining F-1 status.