Changing Status

Changing to J-1 status

In some cases, if you are already in the U.S., you may wish to apply for a change of status to avoid a return trip to your home country. The application is submitted on Form I-539 with a fee, and accompanied by copies of previous documents showing your visa history.

An application for a change of status can take several months and is not always the best option. You should consult with an international advisor at ISSS as you receive your invitation to the J-1 program. ISSS will help determine if the change of status application processing will help or hinder given your circumstances. In most cases, applicants find that a trip home and applying for the visa from there is much quicker and more reliable than remaining in the U.S. and applying for a change of status.

If a change of status is recommended, ISSS will assist with your change of status application.


Changing to H-1B status

Non-immigrants in most status categories may change to H-1B status. The most common exception is non-immigrants in J-1 status who are subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement.

H-1B temporary workers are defined as persons who will perform services in specialty occupations on a temporary basis. Learn more about the requirements of H-1B status >>

Once a petition to change status to H-1B has been filed and received by USCIS, you may not travel outside the U.S. If you do travel outside the U.S., the H-1B petition will automatically be approved for consulate notification rather than for a change of status. Please discuss any travel plans with an ISSS advisor prior to filing a request to change status to H-1B.

Unless you are authorized to work in your current status, your change of status must be approved before you may begin to work in H-1B status.

If you are currently in H-1B status and are changing your employment to Emory University, you may begin working for Emory only after Emory's H-1B petition has been submitted to USCIS and an official USCIS receipt notice has been received.


Changing to O-1 status

To qualify for O-1 non-immigrant status, you must possess skills and abilities that place you among the top one to two percentage of individuals in your field of endeavor, and must be filling a position that requires someone who possesses this extraordinary ability. This is not a non-immigrant status for those who demonstrate potential for rising to the very top of their field of endeavor. Learn more >>

Non-immigrants in most categories may change to O-1 status. If you are an O-1 changing employment to Emory, you may begin working for Emory only after Emory's O-1 petition has been approved.

An O-1 petition for consulate notification may be filed on your behalf if you are currently in J-1 non-immigrant status and subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement. However, you will need to travel outside the U.S. to apply for the O-1 visa stamp once the petition is approved (Canada or Mexico may be options), and then re-enter the U.S. in O-1 non-immigrant status.

The O-1 non-immigrant status may also be used instead of the H-1B if you have exhausted all time in H-1B non-immigrant status or will not qualify for the H-1B non-immigrant status due to testing requirements for International Medical Graduates (IMGs), for example.

Once a petition to change status to O-1 has been filed, you may not travel outside the U.S. If you do travel outside the U.S., the O-1 petition will automatically be approved for consulate notification rather than for a change of status. Please discuss any travel plans with an ISSS advisor prior to filing a request to change status to O-1.


Changing to TN status

To qualify for TN non-immigrant status, you must be a citizen of Mexico or Canada, and be entering the United States to work in a profession on the approved NAFTA TN list. Learn more about TN status >>

Non-immigrants in most status categories who are Canadian or Mexican citizens may change to TN status. If you are a Canadian or Mexican professional who is currently in the U.S. and choose not to return to your home country to obtain TN non-immigration status, Emory can apply for a change of non-immigrant status on your behalf. If your dependents are also present, they can apply for a change of status at the same time. However, employment cannot begin without final TN approval unless you are already in a valid status which allows employment at Emory.

The TN approval is granted on USCIS Form I-797 and a new Form I-94 is issued. Your I-94, along with an identity document, can be used for employment eligibility certification on Form I-9.

If you are currently in TN status and are changing employers, you can work for Emory only after Emory's TN petition has been submitted to USCIS and an official USCIS approval notice has been received, or after you have left the U.S. and re-entered as a TN with the appropriate Emory documentation.

Travel While COS Pending

  • If you are planning to travel while a change of status is pending (i.e. filed with USCIS), please contact ISSS immediately.