MOSCOW, NOV. 15 -- Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead said here today that changes in Soviet emigration policy will be required for success at next month's meeting between U.S. and Soviet leaders.

Whitehead met this afternoon with 40 Soviets seeking to leave for the West, listening to individuals recount long battles with Soviet emigration officials. He pledged Reagan administration support, saying, "No country has the right to keep people imprisoned in its borders when they want to leave."

Whitehead arrived in Moscow today for two days of planning for the summit meeting between Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan, to be held in Washington Dec. 7-10. He is to begin talks with Soviet Foreign Ministry officials Monday morning, with the visit to focus on human rights.

Speaking to the gathering today, at an apartment in the U.S. Embassy compound, Whitehead said, "We will tell the Soviets that for the summit to be successful they must change their emigration policy."

The number of Jews and some ethnic minorities allowed to leave has increased substantially here this year. Still, western analysts and some Soviets complain that only a fraction of the Soviets seeking emigration are granted permission.

Particularly since plans for the summit were announced, the Kremlin has moved to resolve some of the longstanding cases of Soviets trying to leave for the United States.

Elena Kaplan and Galina Goltzman, both Soviets married to U.S. citizens who have just won long battles to join their spouses, were included in today's meeting. Both were told Friday that a special commission of the Supreme Soviet had overturned earlier decisions rejecting their appeals to emigrate. Kaplan has fought for nine years to emigrate, while Goltzman first applied to leave 24 years ago, after her husband had defected to the West.

Many who continue to appeal informed Whitehead about their plights. Naum Meiman, 76, a mathematician denied permission to emigrate for 12 years, told Whitehead of continued Soviet insistence that he cannot leave because he knows state secrets. Meiman, now retired, was associated with scientists working on the Soviet nuclear arsenal in the 1950s.

The Soviet Union has eased restrictions on emigration in part to improve the atmosphere before the summit and in part to create conditions for a proposed conference on human rights in Moscow.

Human rights is expected to be one of the key agenda items at the summit, along with arms control, bilateral and regional problems. "The U.S. will continue to work on your cases and on your behalf as long as there is a single one of you left here," Whitehead told those he met today.

{In Jerusalem, prominent Soviet Jewish emigres -- including Anatoly Scharansky, Ira Nudel, Yuli Edelstein and Vladimir Slepak -- called on Reagan to demand further Soviet relaxation of emigration restrictions as a condition for arms control agreements or increased U.S.-Soviet trade, news agencies reported. The emigres said they will travel to Washington for a rally the day before the summit begins.}