Stress-assisted atomic migration occurs in thin films due to thermal stress development, followed by hillock and void formation on a film surface. Relation between thermal stresses and hillock formation was investigated on copper films with and without passivation layer. Copper films with a thickness of 10, 50 and 100 nm on oxidized silicon wafer were prepared for investigating thermal stress and hillock formation. In-situ thermal stress observation by X-ray measurement revealed that compressive stresses develop in an early stage of heating followed by a sudden decrease in the temperature region between 100 and 200 deg. In a cooling stage, stresses in a film linearly changed with decreasing temperature to form a tensile residual stress state. Surface morphology is observed by optical microscope and SEM after the heat cycle as well as at elevated temperatures in a vacuum chamber. Dome-like swells were formed on an AlN passivation layer. Almost of all of the swells on 100 nm thick film collapsed after the heat treatment up to 350 deg whereas the swells on 10 nm thick film had no collapse excepting a few case. Comparing with the film without passivation, the swell is considered to be the result of atomic migration of copper film to form hillocks in the interface between copper film and AlN passivation film during heating. Atoms are considered to migrate reversibly into the copper film in the cooling stage, resulting to make vacant hall in the swell of AlN film and then collapse due to tensile stress development.