Hosting an International Student
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Who can be a host family?
Host families are as different and diverse as Americans themselves. They come from all ethnic, racial, economic, and religious backgrounds. They live in cities, small towns, and rural communities. Host families rang from married couples with kids, empty nesters, single parents, non-traditional families, and married couples. Any person over the age of 25 that will support the student and welcome them into their home and lives can host a student. Any person living in the house who is over the age of 18 submit to a background check.
How will our family benefit by hosting an international exchange student?
Hosting an exchange student is a rewarding experience for your whole family. You’ll learn about another culture and language— without leaving home. You’ll start a life-long relationship with your new son or daughter, and when your student returns home you’ll have a special friend in another country. Members of your family will feel closer to each other through sharing your daily lives with an exchange student. If you have children, they’ll gain a broader perspective on the world, learning more about geography, communication, patients and international cultures while gaining a new respect for their own. If your children are young, they’ll probably love having a big brother or sister from another country. You will be a citizen diplomat, by creating positive impressions about America and Americans, breaking stereotypes and fostering mutual understanding and respect.
What are our responsibilities as host parents?
All that is asked of host families is to care for the students as they would their own children. This means that the families are expected to provide a clean living environment, good nourishment and love. The students will provide their own spending money for expenses incurred outside of the home; programs provide full medical insurance for each student. Host families must provide a willingness to open their home and heart to an exchange student; a separate bed and a quiet place to study; daily meals with the family (breakfast and dinner and lunches when they don’t buy one from school); some local transportation; and open communication, encouragement and sound advice.
What is expected of exchange students?
Students are expected to be a responsible, respectful and caring member of the family; to attend school regularly and show consistent effort; to share his/her culture and customs with hosts and their community; to participate fully in family and school life; and to have open communication and a commitment to the program.
Will our exchange student speak English?
All international students who come to the U.S. on government-sponsored programs and most private programs have studied spoken and written English. Most of them have studied our language for five years or more, and international students must pass an English proficiency test before being accepted onto the program. Undoubtedly, you will find that your student’s English ability will improve remarkably during your months together—something host families often find both exciting and gratifying. This is an exchange program so we encourage the students to not speak in their native tongue while here and really practice and improve their English skills.
How much does it cost to host an exchange student?
There is no charge. The only expenses for your family will be the costs of including another person in your regular activities, including three meals a day.
What do exchange students do during the day?
All students on academic programs attend the local high school nearest their families on a full-time basis and will take courses typical of an American his or her age. On the weekend or days off, we encourage families and students to enjoy time together; whether it be taking a weekend trip into the city, exploring town together, going to the movies or having a game day. Students will also make friends at school and will hang out with them as well on the weekends or after school.
Would we be responsible for our student’s medical bills or spending money?
No. International exchange students have their own medical insurance that is covered by the sponsoring program. Students bring their own spending money for shopping, going out to dinner or to the movies with friends, extracurricular activities, etc.
My spouse and I both work, and wouldn’t be home to entertain the student. Wouldn’t this be a problem?
Today, in most of two-parent families, both parents work. This is representative of the diversity of America. Host families are not responsible for entertaining the students; but instead for sharing an exchange of ideas, lifestyles, and love with a child from another culture. With the participation in local high schools, students quickly develop a circle of friends and get involved in many school activities and should not be dependent on the family for entertainment.
Can we host more than one student?
Yes you can host more than one student. If the students are going to share a room then they must be the same gender and no more than 2 students may share a room.
Do host families get paid to host an exchange student?
For students who come on an F-1 Visa program, yes families do receive a monthly stipend for hosting an exchange student. The stipend varies based on the location of the family and the program. If the student is part of a J-1 Visa program it is all voluntary and families do not receive a stipend but a tax exemption.
What kind of Visa do the students receive?
There are two different types of Visa’s a student can come on. A J-1 and F-1 Visa. With the J-1 visa, students do not pay tuition and families are volunteer host families. Students typically participate in a J-1 program because it is a lower cost to them. With the F-1 Visa programs, students typically pay tuition to the school they attend and families do receive a monthly stipend.
How long do the students stay in my home? What is the hosting time frame?
An international student typically stays for the full academic year (10 months) or for a full semester (5 months). On the F-1 Visa, students may stay from one semester to 4 full academic years.
What do I do in an emergency situation?
In the case of an emergency we have a 24/7 emergency number to call where one of our staff members is always available. We also have local support for each of our families and students.
How will the student get to and from school?
Your student can either take the bus to and from school, carpool with another classmate, if you wish to drive them in you can, or (weather and distance permitting) they can bike or walk.
My family wants to host! What is the next step?
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J-1 Visa exchange student organizations are Department of State certified and CSIET members and F-1 Visa organizations should be CSIET members. U.S. Department of State requires all host family members 18+ living with a foreign exchange student to submit to a criminal background check.
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