The student exchange program offers a life changing experience for foreign students; it gives a great opportunity for foreign students to study in the US while living with an American host family or at a boarding school. To qualify as an exchange student, applicants must be accepted into a certified secondary school exchange program in the US. Participants must be aged between 15 and 18 ½ and should not have completed more than 11 years of primary and secondary education. Students must have proficiency in English and meet specific academic health and character requirements. A J1 visa for exchange student program is usually granted for 1 year and extensions are not permitted.
Typically, sponsoring organizations look for students who are independent, mature and have an open mind. Sponsors monitor the students program and also help them with any issues during their stay in the US. They ensure that they get a written approval from the students and from their parents and make sure that exchange students do not stay with relatives in the US. Sponsors will have to screen potential host families and give them all the details about the exchange student program and the duties and obligations of the host family. They should get a detailed profile of the host family and the home environment and also get personal references from the school or community.
Host families must ensure that the student has a comfortable stay in their home; they must provide the student with room, board, bathroom facilities and study space. The host family must ensure that the student is in a safe and caring environment where he or she is treated like a member of the family. At the end of their stay, exchange students go back home with a new found sense of independence and memories of a lifetime.