If you are currently a student at Emory in a visa status other than F-1 or J-1, you may wish to change your status. There are two ways to obtain F-1 or J-1 student status: by filing a petition from within the United States to change status, or by traveling outside the United States and re-entering the country using the appropriate visa.
Changing to F-1 status may be done either through traveling outside the U.S., obtaining an F-1 visa, and re-entering in that status, or through an application made to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The latter will, if approved, result in a change of status, but will still require you to obtain an F-1 visa in order to re-enter the US following any future travel abroad. For that reason, and because of the cost and time involved in the USCIS application, International Student Advisors in ISSS normally encourage that the change be obtained through travel.
Your dependent(s) may also request a change of status to F-2. You must first request to add a dependent to your record via ISSS Link. ISSS will create the form I-20 for your dependent. Following receipt of the I-20, your dependent may obtain F-2 status in either of the same two ways, either through travel and re-entry or by filing the petition with USCIS.
If you would like to change your status to J-1 and your dependents would like to change to J-2, the same process applies. In other words, you can obtain one of these statuses either through travel outside the U.S. and re-entry with the appropriate visa, or through application to USCIS. However, there are significant differences between the F and J statuses. You should carefully compare the two and schedule an appointment with an international student advisor prior to seeking a change of status through either method.
Once you have completed your program of study and any authorized Optional Practical Training or Academic Training, during your grace period you can apply for a change of status to another non-immigrant status such as B-1/B-2. You can also apply for an adjustment of status from a non-immigrant category to an immigrant category. You may wish to investigate each of these possibilities and engage the assistance of an immigration attorney.
The international student advisors in ISSS can answer any questions that you may have about how these applications will affect your non-immigrant student status, but they are not qualified to advise you regarding your rights and responsibilities once those applications have been processed.