Secondary Students must:

  • Be at least 15 years of age, but not more than 18 years and six months of age as of the program start date, or
  • Not have finished more than 11 years of primary and secondary school, not including kindergarten; and
  • Not have previously participated in a secondary school student academic year or semester exchange program or attended school in the United States in either F-1 or J-1 status.


Extracurricular Experiences: Students may take part in school-sanctioned and sponsored extra-curricular activities, including after-school sports programs.

Accommodations: Students live with an American host family or at a U.S. boarding school.

More information

Students may take part in school activities, including after-school sports programs. The school district and the state office in charge of deciding athletic eligibility must approve the exchange student’s participation. Students may not work part-time or full-time jobs. However, they may accept occasional work, like yard work or babysitting. Exchange students are not allowed to live with relatives.

Secretary Blinken and Secretary Cardona Letter to School Superintendents Encouraging International Exchange 2023

Program Resources Find a Program Sponsor Common Questions

Report Abuse or Exploitation


Program Sponsors

When screening potential host families, sponsors will:

  • Provide potential host families with a detailed summary of the exchange visitor program and the duties and obligations of a host family’s participation;
  • Request a detailed summary and profile of the host family, the physical home environment, family’s composition and community environment;
  • Conduct in-person interviews with all family members residing in the home;
  • Request two personal references for the host family from the school or community to attest to the host family’s good reputation and character;
  • Ensure that the host family has adequate financial resources to host the student; and
  • Verify that each member of the host family who is 18 and older has undergone a criminal background check.

Sponsors must ensure the following for participants:

  • Local coordinators are assigned to participants to monitor their program and assist with any issues during their stay in the United States;
  • No more than two foreign secondary school students may be placed in a host family home, and can only be placed if all regulatory requirements are met: Students are not from the same countries or have the same native language. Written approval from the students, written approval from the student’s natural parents, written acceptance of two students by the host family, etc; and
  • Exchange students are not permitted to reside with relatives.


Host families are required to:

  • Provide a bed, adequate storage space for clothes and personal belongings, reasonable access to bathroom facilities and study space if not otherwise available in the home;
  • Three quality meals a day; and
  • Transportation to and from school activities.

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary G. Kevin Saba’s Secondary School Student Host Family Appreciation Letter (May 2016) (PDF)

Program Resources Find a Program Sponsor Common Questions