Requirements to Host a Foreign Exchange Student in USA

Four Happy students standing together - Foreign exchange students

Requirements to Host a Foreign Exchange Student in USA: Annually, the United States extends a warm welcome to foreign exchange students hailing from various corners of the globe. The U.S. takes in a greater number of international students each year than any other nation, and families all across America are uncovering the rewards of hosting these global learners. 

If you’re contemplating the idea of hosting a foreign exchange student or seeking guidance on getting started, this comprehensive guide is your roadmap through every stage of the process.

Who is a Foreign Exchange Student?

A foreign exchange student is an individual from a different country who has an opportunity to live abroad with a host family. The idea of ‘foreign exchange hosting’ consists of the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and cultural experiences and types, which will enrich the lives of the exchange students and host families.

Why Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

There are many benefits of hosting a foreign exchange student, but to name a few:

  • Making friends with people from all over the world
  • Developing or mastering foreign language skills
  • Experiencing cultural differences and becoming culturally competent
  • Learning new ideas

More so, a household may benefit from hosting a foreign exchange student where you have children. Your children will be exposed to experience another culture and can learn from that experience. Also, if you are in an empty nest or bored, hospitality can provide you with someone to cheer you up and connect with. If you are single or living alone, hosting can provide you with a company without the responsibility of a permanent situation.

Read Also: Hosting Foreign Exchange Students: Pros and Cons

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Who Can Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

Are you wondering who is eligible to host a foreign exchange student? Well, the answer is simple: families and individuals can open their doors to these exchange students. Each option has specific advantages, and we will explore the advantages of both in more detail.

Benefits for families and individuals who host foreign exchange students include:

The Benefits of Family Hosting:

  1. Cultural Exchange: Families can expose foreign exchange students to the shades of family life, traditions, and local customs, resulting in a deeper cultural exchange.
  2. Built-in support systems: Students living with families have flexible support systems, including daily living guidance, community skills, and emotional support.
  3. Learning environment: Families provide a natural and comfortable environment for language learning and cultural reflection, as students interact with family members on a daily basis.
  4. Student sense of belonging: Students ‌feel part of a family, creating a sense of belonging and friendships that can last a lifetime.
  5. Structured Living: Living with family can provide a structured environment, which is beneficial for younger or less independent students.

The Benefits of Individual Hosting:

  1. Independence and Responsibility: Being accommodated as individuals gives students a high degree of independence, preparing them for future challenges.
  2. Flexibility: Individual hosts often offer more flexible living arrangements, accommodating various student schedules and preferences.
  3. Deep personal connections: Students can develop deep one-on-one relationships with individual hosts, resulting in meaningful and lasting relationships.
  4. Adaptive Learning: Adaptive Learning: One-on-one hosting can encourage flexibility and confidence as students go through life with little immediate support.

Qualities of a Good Host:

Qualities of a good host for a foreign exchange student are open-mindedness, patience, strong communication skills, flexibility, empathy, respect for privacy, willingness to share Cultural experiences, security self-consciousness, creating a supportive environment, and sharing an interest in exchanging experiences. These qualities make students feel welcome and rewarded during their stay.

What Are the Requirements to Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

Becoming a foreign exchange student host is relatively easy, but you must meet certain requirements to be approved through the application process.

Eligibility and Legal Requirements 

According to Nadra Bank, the International Exchange Coordinator (IEC) for the EF High School Exchange Year, the U.S. The State Department and exchanges establish specific requirements for the host family. 

Nedra explains that “Parents in a host family must be at least 25 years of age, have a stable home life and adequate housing, and anyone living in the home that is over 18 must go through a background check.

More so, the host family will not be the foreign exchange student’s legal guardian. The exchange program will assume legal responsibility for the student during the program, although families are responsible for the safety and well-being of the student. If the student needs emergency health care, a medical waiver will be issued to the host parents, and the student’s health insurance will cover all medical expenses

Accommodation and Living Arrangements:

Host families are responsible for three meals a day, lodging in a separate room or shared a room with your child of the same gender, a quiet place to study, a supportive environment that allows students to experience American culture, and transportation to and from school.

More so, some families want their children to have the same gender, while others want to give their children the experience of mixed-gender siblings. 

International exchange students are allowed to ride the school bus, but are not allowed to drive. Students bring their own money to pay for their cell phone bills, social activities, personal expenses, and public transportation to visit extracurricular activities

How to Become a Host Family for Foreign Exchange Students

Step 1: Research an Agency

Do some research to find hosting agencies in your region to work with. The department will help you begin the application process and confirm that it meets all your needs.

It is important to choose an agency accredited by the Council on Standards for International Exchange Travel (CSIET). This will ensure that you participate in a program that meets high ethical standards. 

Step 2: Complete the Host Family Application 

Initiate the process by completing a host family application. Your local coordinator can facilitate this step, offering both online and hardcopy application options. This brief application will request general information about your family, your residence, and your community to ensure your eligibility for hosting.

Step 3: Undergo a criminal background check

Prioritizing student safety, all household members aged 18 and older are required to undergo a criminal background check. 

Stepythe family members are together. During this in-home visit, they will provide a comprehensive program overview, address any queries you may have, and familiarise themselves with your family. 

Additionally, they will conduct a tour of your home, capturing images of common areas, the student’s bedroom, and the bathroom. Typically, this visit takes around 1–2 hours.

Step 5: Select Your Exchange Student 

One of the most exciting stages is selecting the exchange student who will become a part of your family. You have the freedom to choose a student who shares your interests, hobbies, or faith or select a student from a specific region with a culture that blends your interests. 

Step 6: Coordinates High School Acceptance 

Your local coordinator will liaise with the institution to secure acceptance letters for the student’s enrolment, ascertain school start and end dates, and gather information about any special requirements for exchange students. 

Step 7: Connect with Your Student 

Upon finalizing the placement, you can immediately start building a connection with your student. Begin bonding through email, Skype, social media, or phone calls. It’s an exciting time to learn about each other’s personalities and cultures. 

More so, encourage your students to share additional pictures of their family, friends, and hometowns while you provide insights into what they can expect upon arrival.

Step 8: Attend a Host Family Orientation 

Before the student arrives, your local coordinator might conduct a mandatory host family orientation. This session will cover cultural differences, program rules, solutions to common challenges, and an opportunity for you to seek clarification on your host family’s role. You may also have the chance to meet other hosting families in your area.

Preparing Your Home to Host an Exchange Student

To ensure your foreign exchange student feels at home right away, thoughtful preparations are key.

Before Arrival:

  1. Create a welcoming atmosphere
  2. Organise and clean your home, fixing any repairs or damages.
  3. Furnish the student’s room with a desk and chair for studying.
  4. Print their school schedule and stock their room with essentials for a smooth transition.

Upon Arrival:

  1. Provide a house tour to help them settle in quickly.
  2. Offer support and assist with shopping, banking, and orientation.
  3. Introduce them to your family, friends, and the local community.

During School:

  1. Maintain open communication and offer support.
  2. Include them in social activities to enhance their cultural experience.

Can I Get Paid to Host an Exchange Student in USA?

While volunteering as a host family in the USA, you won’t receive monetary compensation. Nevertheless, the U.S. government acknowledges your dedication to international exchange and offers an opportunity for American host families to claim a flat $50 monthly tax deduction in the upcoming tax year.

When Is the Application Deadline for Host Families?

The sooner you apply to be a host family, the more likely you are to find a student that matches your interest. Applications for host families must be completed at least one month before the school program begins, to enable you to have some time to know about your student before he or she student arrives.

Conclusion on Requirements to Host a Foreign Exchange Student in USA

The USA welcomes foreign exchange students, offering many benefits for both host families and students. Families and individuals can host students, each with unique advantages. Some qualities of a good host include open-mindedness, patience, and communication skills

To become a host, meet the eligibility requirements and follow the application process. While hosting is voluntary, hosts can claim a $50 monthly tax deduction. The exchange program typically lasts 6–12 months, with various arrival times. Apply early for a better match. Prepare your home for a smooth transition and make your student feel at home upon arrival.

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