Frequently Asked Questions
 
Questions to U.S. Schools from Exchange Programs 

CSIET's Education Outreach Committee formed the FAQ document to assist exchange programs in supporting U.S. schools as they introduce and integrate international students into their communities.
These FAQs are intended to assist exchange programs in supporting U.S. schools as they introduce and integrate international students into their communities

 

Questions About the Listing Process
These FAQs cover details about the CSIET listing process and help prepare our member exchange organizations with what to expect in the annual process.  

 
For Schools That Want to Worth with Exchange Programs:
CSIET sets standards for and evaluates U.S.-based youth exchange programs. CSIET publishes the results of the evaluation process in the Advisory List as a service to students, educators, and families, so that they may identify reputable exchange organizations.

CSIET sets standards for U.S.-based youth exchange programs to follow. CSIET Standards deal mostly with student safety and well-being. Click here to view the CSIET Standards.

CSIET-Listed Member Exchange Programs have voluntarily entered a rigorous evaluation process and have earned their "CSIET-Listing" Status. CSIET Membership does not guarantee a listing status with CSIET, but rather, an organization must be a paid CSIET member in order to apply to be evaluated for a CSIET listing status. CSIET Member Exchange Programs have paid for their Membership into the Association, which is based on an annual cycle (July 1 to June 30). In order to earn a CSIET Listing Status, Members must "Apply for Listing" which enters the organization into CSIET's annual evaluation process, which begins in November and ends in April of the following year. Only U.S.-based schools and organizations are eligible to seek a CSIET listing status, and they must also be members in the Voting Exchange Program or School/District Membership categories.
If an organization was not granted listing status in the most current Advisory List, it was not found to be in compliance with the CSIET Standards last year. Details of the evaluation, beyond an organization's resulting listing status, are confidential. Keep in mind that exchange programs apply for CSIET's evaluation process voluntarily. If an organization did not apply for CSIET Listing, CSIET cannot determine if it operated in compliance with CSIET Standards and therefore will not list the program in the Advisory List.
As a standard-setting organization, CSIET takes its monitoring and oversight role seriously. Should you have a serious problem with a youth exchange organization or if you have questions about whether its procedures are in compliance with CSIET Standards, you may submit a formal complaint to CSIET. Complaints must be submitted in writing and include your name, address, and telephone number. CSIET does not accept anonymous complaints. You may request that your identity be withheld from the youth organization unless your identity is necessary for the resolution of the concern. You can submit a complaint via e-mail (mailbox@csiet.org), fax (703-647-6259), or post. CSIET's mailing address is as follows: CSIET 500 Montgomery Street Suite 400 Alexandria, VA 22314 When CSIET receives a complaint, it is placed in the file of the youth exchange organization to be examined by the CSIET Evaluation Committee, and a copy is sent to the organization so that it can investigate the matter and provide a written report to CSIET. CSIET does not report back to complainants; however, CSIET listing is very important to most exchange organizations, so they tend to be responsive. All information about the evaluation of organizations is confidential. Every complaint is taken seriously and is fully studied as a part of the CSIET evaluation process.
The Student And Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's student-tracking database. In most cases, the U.S. school is not responsible for registering exchange students in SEVIS. Most exchange programs place students in U.S. schools for a semester or year using a J-1 Visa. The U.S. government holds the exchange program responsible for registering J-1 visa students in SEVIS. However, if the school is sponsoring the student on the F-1 visa using an I-20 form, the U.S. government does hold the school responsible for the exchange and requires the school to register the student in SEVIS.

A high-school-age student may participate in a semester- or year-long exchange in the United States in one of two ways. The most common way is to participate in an exchange program on a J-1 visa. To qualify, students must be between the ages of 15 and 18-1/2 at the start of the program or not have graduated from high school. Designated non-profit organizations are the sponsors and responsible parties. These organizations must comply with certain orientation and selection criteria and are regulated by the State Department as cultural/educational exchanges under the Fulbright-Hays Act.

J-1 participants themselves must:

  • have sufficient financial resources for their stay in the United States
  • have a residence to return to upon completion of the program in the United States
  • maintain lawful immigration status while in the United States by keeping a valid passport at all times, not work without authorization, and leave the United States upon expiration of the visa or securing extension of stay if necessary
  • have sufficient command of the English language to enable them to function well in an English-speaking academic and community environment.

The student applies to participate in an exchange program. If the exchange program accepts the student, the program will sponsor the student on a J-1 visa using a DS 2019 form (formerly the IAP 66 form). The exchange program is responsible for the student's stay in the United States. The student pays the program for its services, but typically does not have to pay tuition to the school. A student may study on a J-1 visa for up to one year.
Most of the organizations that CSIET evaluates sponsor students on J-1 visas.

Alternatively, a student may study in the United States using the F-1 visa. To do so, one must approach the U.S. school that the student might attend. If the school has a Designated School Official (DSO) - designated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - the school may opt to sponsor the student on an F-1 visa using an I-20 Form.

Features of the F-1 visa:

  • Regulated by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
  • School is the responsible party in the United States, accountable to the INS.
  • Students must pay tuition to the public host school

The F-1 foreign student's obligations under U.S. immigration regulations are to:

  • provide evidence that the unsubsidized cost of tuition for any academic study in the United States is paid in order to obtain their visa
  • have sufficient financial resources for the anticipated stay in the United States
  • have a residence abroad to return to upon completion of the program in the United States
  • always maintain lawful immigration status while in the United States by keeping a valid passport, not working without authorization, and leaving the United States upon expiration of the visit or securing an extension of permission to stay if needed.

The school would be responsible for the student's exchange. The student would not have to pay fees to an exchange program, but the student would be required to pay tuition to the school, unless the school is private, in which case the school may opt to waive tuition.

In the case of both J-1 and F-1 exchanges, it is up to the U.S. school to decide whether it will accept students who have already graduated from high school in their home countries.
 

Most exchange programs place students in the United States using the J-1 visa. U.S. government regulations do not allow a student who is on a J-1 visa to stay with relatives as this could take away from cultural immersion. If a school is willing to sponsor the student on an F-1 visa using an I-20 form (thereby taking responsibility for the exchange), the student may reside in the home of relatives.

For Schools that want to send American Students Abroad:

Yes. Outbound exchanges are an excellent way for American students to learn a new language and culture, help people abroad to understand the United States better, and personally grow to be more independent, confident, and mature. American high school students can participate in a year program, a semester program, or a short-term program during the summer or during other breaks from school. The "Gap Year" abroad is a very popular option among American students. Students spend the year after high school graduation abroad, living with a host family and attending a school in that country.