Changing Your Status

If you're already in the US and you want to change your immigration status, you have 2 options:

  1. Travel outside the US and re-enter the country using your new visa.
  2. File a petition from within the United States to change status if eligible. This usually takes longer.

Exception: if you are a J-1 exchange visitor who is subject to the 2-year home-country physical presence requirement, you can't change status from within the US.


If you're thinking about changing status, please discuss your plans with your supervisor. Your department will need to initiate any change-of-status request, and ISSS will help them through that process. 

Please also discuss your plans with your ISSS advisor, who will help you determine if a change-of-status application is the right choice for you. 

Changing to J-1 status

Generally, we recommend changing to J-1 status by traveling outside the US, getting an J-1 visa, and re-entering the US in J-1 status.

You can also apply for a status change through US Citizenship and Immigration Services from within the US if eligible, but you'll still have to get an J-1 visa if you travel abroad later.

Learn more about J-1 status >>

Changing to H-1B status

Non-immigrants in most status categories can change to H-1B status. Keep in mind that J-1 exchange visitors who are subject to the 2-year home-country physical presence requirement can't change to H-1B status unless they have received a waiver.

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 can begin working for Emory only after Emory's H-1B petition has been submitted to USCIS and ISSS has received the official USCIS receipt notice.

Learn more about H-1B status >>

Changing to O-1 status

Non-immigrants in most status categories can change to O-1 status, but in order to qualify, you must possess "extraordinary ability" and be at the very top of your field. Your position at Emory must also require someone of extraordinary ability. Learn more about O-1 status >>

If you are currently in J-1 status and subject to the two-year home-country residency requirement, there is a special process for filing an O-1 petition. Please contact your ISSS advisor for assistance.

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

If you are already in O-1 status and are changing employment to Emory, you may begin working for Emory only after Emory's O-1 petition has been approved.

Changing to TN status

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

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.

Employment cannot begin without final TN approval unless you are already in a valid status which allows employment at Emory.

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 US and re-entered as a TN with the appropriate Emory documentation.