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.
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.
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.
CSIET's School Relations working group created the Model School Policy on International Student Exchange to help each school design its own policy on youth exchange.
Topics covered include:
For Schools that want to send American Students Abroad: