Are we good candidates for hosting?
Host families come in many shapes and sizes. There is no typical host family: families with teens, no children, young children, children who have grown, single parents, and grandparents. Host families live in large cities, suburban areas, on farms and ranches, or in small communities. Our students are also from diverse family situations. Using your interests and preferences, a representative from one of the placement organizations will help you in matching an exchange student to your family situation.
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 and international cultures. 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.
How long do we have to host our exchange student?
Hosting opportunities range from serving a meal or providing an overnight stay to welcoming an exchange student into your home for a full year. Likewise, you can host a student for one semester or for the entire school year if you choose.
Do I have to send my son or daughter overseas in order to host an exchange student?
No. The word "exchange" sometimes misleads people. The word "exchange" refers to an exchange of cultures and ideas, as opposed to a literal exchange of family members, although American host brothers and sisters are welcome to apply and travel overseas.
My family isn't a 'traditional' family. Is it still possible to host?
Of course! Many cultures share the commonality of not being able to define what a "traditional" family is. Host families include single-parent households, parents with adult children, families with small children or many other varieties. A few examples of host families include (but are not limited to):
- Working parents
- Single parents
- Same-sex couples
- Couples without children
- Couples with children (of any age)
- Single adults
- Adoptive parents
- Empty nesters
- Military families
What is required of a host family?
Families hosting high school students should:
- Be able to provide for an additional member of the family including a separate bed, suitable study area and three meals per day.
- Offer a supportive environment as the student goes through his or her adjustment process.
- Be interested in teenagers/international students and have realistic expectations of what life with a teenager is like. Help your student adapt to your family and to U.S. life and culture.
- Familiarize your student with your hometown and promote participation in school and community events.
- Provide a safe and secure environment for the student to live and learn.
Will my exchange student speak English?
It is required that all students must be able to function in their classrooms while an exchange student. While students do speak English, some cultures will be more proficient in the beginning.
Will I receive financial compensation for hosting an exchange student?
No. You will not receive compensation as a volunteer host family. The U.S. Government does appreciate your commitment to international exchange, however, and you can claim a flat $50 per month tax deduction as an American host family for the coming tax year.
Am I the exchange student's legal guardian?
No. The exchange student’s natural parents remain legal guardians. The student’s program takes legal responsibility during the course of the program. Each exchange student’s Certificate of Health contains a medical release form so that host parents may secure medical treatment in the case of an emergency.
How will our exchange student get around?
Since exchange students are not allowed to drive, the host family is expected to provide transportation. Though students will take the school bus when available, host parents must make sure the student has transportation to school each day. The host family may also transport students to after-school events, social activities, and cultural programs, just as they would their own child. Exchange students might also use public transportation or a bike, or even have school friends who drive.
What if the student needs medical attention?
Your student is provided with health insurance that will cover any expenses should they require a visit to the doctor. Before a student is accepted into most programs, they must undergo a complete physical exam and submit a certified report documenting that they are in good health.
Hosting Commonly Asked Questions