June 29, 2023
Activities and Tips

What Are the Requirements to Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

A group of young adults of varying genders and races sit on a low wall, smiling and with arms around each other's shoulders

Have you ever wondered what are the requirements to host a foreign exchange student? Now that exchange student numbers are bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are more host families across the United States than ever before. For these families, opening their doors to a foreign student is a transformative experience that offers cultural exchange and creates lifelong connections. 

At AYUSA, we’ve been connecting international exchange students with American host families for over 40 years. So far, we’ve helped over 40,000 international students find their host families, creating lifelong connections and bonds that stand the test of time. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a host family, check out our FAQ page or complete an application online

Before embarking on the remarkable adventure of becoming a host family for an international student, it's essential to understand the requirements to host a foreign exchange student. This article will guide you through the key requirements of hosting a foreign exchange student, ensuring that you have the necessary knowledge and resources to embark on this rewarding endeavor. We’ll discuss: 

  1. Why you should host a foreign exchange student
  2. The specific requirements for hosting an exchange student
  3. How to become a host for foreign exchange students with AYUSA

By partnering with a study abroad organization like AYUSA, you gain access to a wealth of support, guidance, and a vast network of fellow host families who have embarked on this incredible journey of cultural exchange.

Whether you are curious about the prerequisites for hosting an exchange student, looking for guidance on the application process, or eager to understand the responsibilities that come with hosting, we’ve got you covered. Let's explore the requirements and embrace the opportunity to make a positive impact on the life of an international student, as well as your own.

Why Should You Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

Hosting a foreign exchange student is an extraordinary opportunity that can profoundly impact your life and the life of the host student you welcome into your home. Here are several reasons why hosting a foreign exchange student can be an immensely rewarding experience:

  1. Develop lifelong connections 
  2. Enhance your cultural understanding
  3. Provide incredible opportunities for foreign students

By opening your doors to a young person from another country, you embark on a journey of cultural exchange, personal growth, and the creation of lifelong connections. 

Develop Lifelong Connections

Becoming an international student’s host family allows you to build deep and meaningful relationships that can last a lifetime. As you welcome an international student into your home, you have the chance to create bonds that transcend borders and cultural differences. 

The connections formed during the exchange experience often lead to lifelong friendships, fostering a global network of individuals who share a special connection through their shared experiences. Whether it’s keeping in touch over social media or traveling across the world to reconnect, a vast majority of host families and students stay in touch well after their study abroad program comes to an end. 

Enhance Your Cultural Understanding

One of the most remarkable aspects of hosting a foreign exchange student is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture. By welcoming a student from another country, you gain first hand exposure to their language, traditions, customs, and way of life. 

This cultural exchange fosters a greater appreciation for diversity and broadens your perspective on global issues. It opens your mind to different ways of thinking, expands your horizons, and promotes intercultural understanding within your own family and community.

Provide Incredible Opportunities for Foreign Students

Hosting a foreign exchange student offers a unique chance to make a positive impact on the life of a young individual. By providing a safe and nurturing environment, you can give students: 

  1. The opportunity to study abroad in the USA
  2. A chance to experience a new educational system
  3. A deeper understanding of another culture 
  4. Memories to last a lifetime

Through this experience, you empower students to develop valuable life skills, such as adaptability, independence, and resilience, shaping their future academic and professional endeavors. In fact, students that study abroad are around twice as likely to find employment once they graduate, compared to their peers. 

The best study abroad programs give you, the host family, an incredible opportunity to introduce exchange students to the richness of your own culture, exposing them to new traditions, activities, and perspectives. By embracing the role of a mentor and cultural ambassador, you play a crucial part in shaping their cross-cultural experience and helping them integrate into a new community.

Through AYUSA, you can embark on this life-changing experience with the guidance and support needed to make it a truly rewarding endeavor. Consider opening your heart and home to a foreign exchange student, embrace the power of cultural exchange, and forge connections that span continents.

What Are the Requirements to Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

Hosting a foreign exchange student is one of the most rewarding experiences there is, but it also comes with certain requirements and responsibilities. At AYUSA, we need to make sure our host families are suitable candidates, to make sure we’re running the best exchange programs for high school students.

To ensure a successful and enriching exchange, it is important to understand the qualifications and commitments involved in becoming a host family. In this section, we will explore the key requirements to host a foreign exchange student through AYUSA. 

Who Can Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

With AYUSA, there’s no typical host family. You can host a high school exchange student and provide them with an amazing experience whether you’re single, married, a young couple, an empty nester, or anyone else! 

It doesn’t matter whether or not you have your own children, or how old they are. As long as you can provide a caring, supportive, and educational experience for a student from another country, you’re the perfect host family in our eyes. 

Of course, there are a few rules and guidelines, which we’ll discuss in more detail next. These include: 

  • AYUSA’s age requirements for hosting exchange students
  • What you need to provide for an exchange student
  • How to determine if you’re a good candidate for hosting
  • Understanding your responsibilities as a host family

Ensuring a safe and nurturing environment, understanding your responsibilities, and being genuinely committed to fostering intercultural exchange are key factors in becoming a successful host family. By fulfilling these requirements, you can embark on a remarkable journey of cultural enrichment, personal growth, and lifelong connections with your foreign exchange student.

AYUSA’s Age Requirements for Hosting Exchange Students

At AYUSA, one of our requirements to host a foreign exchange student in an international study abroad program is that host families must be at least 25 years old. There’s no upper age limit, as long as you can provide a stable and nurturing environment for the student.

What You Need to Provide for an Exchange Student

As a host family, it’s your job to provide your exchange student with: 

  • A loving home: More than just a bed, your exchange student needs a safe and comfortable place where they can sleep, rest, relax, study, and spend time with their host family. You need to be able to commit to this for between five and 10 months, depending on the length of the AYUSA study abroad program the student is enrolled in. 
  • Daily meals: You’ll need to provide your student with breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the time that they’re living with you. This gives you an incredible opportunity to share your family’s favorite meals and local favorites with your exchange student. They might also like the chance to cook some of their favorite dishes from home to share with you!
  • Transport: You’re not expected to drive your exchange student everywhere or become a full-time taxi, but it’s important that they have some form of transportation. Often, exchange students can use public transport, get a ride from friends, or borrow a bicycle to get around. Occasionally, though, you may need to drive them to school or pick them up from somewhere. 
  • A supportive environment: A host family should be just that–a family! Welcome your exchange student with open arms, involve them in your day-to-day life, listen to their needs, offer emotional support, and teach them about life in America. 

As long as you can provide this, you’re likely to meet AYUSA’s requirements to host a foreign exchange student and can get started on your application whenever you’re ready! 

Are You a Good Candidate for Hosting?

While there are certain requirements set by AYUSA, it’s just as important to evaluate whether hosting a foreign exchange student aligns with your family's lifestyle, values, and available resources. Are you available to provide emotional support, engage in cultural exchange, and facilitate the student's academic and extracurricular activities? 

Open communication and a genuine interest in embracing diversity and fostering intercultural understanding are essential qualities for a successful hosting experience. Hosting an exchange student is also a significant time commitment. If you travel a lot or are constantly juggling work and your own kids’ schedules, it might not be the perfect time in your life to host an exchange student. 

That said, at AYUSA we know that there’s no “typical” host family. Some exchange students thrive in a bustling household with their host siblings, while others are happier in a quieter environment. We have students who want to live on farms, in small towns, in the suburbs, or get a taste of the city life. Just like your own family is unique, so are our students! 

As long as you can provide a nurturing, loving environment, and find fun things to do with your foreign exchange student, it’s almost certain that there’s an AYUSA exchange student who’s just waiting for an opportunity to thrive in your special home. 

Understanding Your Responsibilities as a Host Family

Hosting a foreign exchange student involves a lot of different responsibilities. While each hosting experience is unique, your responsibilities may include: 

  • Assisting the student in their adjustment to a new culture
  • Providing academic or language support as they settle in
  • Helping the student navigate the local public transport systems
  • Setting clear expectations and rules with your exchange student
  • Communicating with the student, their natural family, and the school as necessary
  • Addressing any challenges that may arise during your exchange student’s stay

To help you along the way, you will also have access to a professionally trained AYUSA Community Representative who will be assigned to work with your family and the exchange student for the duration of the program. The representative will maintain regular, monthly contact, and be available to offer support and advice whenever necessary. 

Your AYUSA representative will also keep in touch with the student’s school and complete a quarterly report that covers their progress throughout the academic year in America. As well as your representative, there’s a team of dedicated regional and national AYUSA staff, available 24/7 in case anything unexpected comes up. 

How to Become a Host Family for Foreign Exchange Students

Now that we’ve covered the requirements to host a foreign exchange student, let’s discuss how to become a host family for exchange students. At AYUSA, we make it easy for families to become hosts to incredible exchange students. 

We guide you through every step of the application process and, once approved, give you everything you need to succeed as a host family. Our vast network of host families and students alike helps us pair families with the most suitable students, and vice versa. 

If you’re ready to start your journey as a host, here’s how to be a host family for exchange students: 

  1. Learn More About AYUSA’s Programs and Requirements
  2. Connect With an AYUSA Representative
  3. Complete an AYUSA Application 
  4. Find a Student That Suits Your Family

Let’s take a more detailed look at how to take the next steps and open your door to a foreign exchange student. 

Learn More About AYUSA’s Programs and Requirements

Although we’ve covered the requirements of a host family for foreign exchange students in this article, it’s a good idea to really familiarize yourself with AYUSA’s programs and requirements. A great place to start is by learning more about what is hosting. If you’re still unsure of the requirements, discover all you need to know about who can host

Still not sure whether hosting is for you? Hear from real AYUSA families about their experiences with the program, and why they keep coming back to host an exchange student again and again. If you still have questions, check out our dedicated FAQ page for prospective host families. 

As well as understanding the responsibilities and requirements to host a foreign exchange student, it’s also important to familiarize yourself with AYUSA’s programs. AYUSA offers both five-month (semester) and 10-month (full academic year) options, so it’s important to think about which option is more suitable for you and your family. 

Connect With an AYUSA Representative

Connecting with an AYUSA representative is one of the best ways to learn more about AYUSA’s programs, students, and your responsibilities as a host family. An AYUSA representative can provide you with detailed information about the available students, their home countries, and their interests. 

Plus, they can discuss any additional requirements or preferences you may have as a host family, ensuring a suitable match between your family and the prospective student. If you would like to connect with an AYUSA representative in your area, complete this form and we’ll be in touch soon!

Complete an AYUSA Application 

So, you’ve read through all the requirements to host a foreign exchange student and you feel like you have what it takes to become a host family. What’s the next step? 

If you’re ready to join the 1-million-plus host families across the United States, it’s time to complete your AYUSA application. Provide as much detailed information as possible and help us see why you and your family can provide the perfect home for a foreign exchange student. 

Find a Student That Suits Your Family

After completing the application process, AYUSA will work with you to find a student who suits your family's interests, lifestyle, and preferences. They will provide you with profiles of prospective students, including information about their background, hobbies, and interests. 

This way, you and your family can review the profiles and select a student with whom you feel a connection and compatibility. AYUSA will facilitate the matching process, considering your family's dynamics and the student's preferences. You can also meet our students to learn more about their backgrounds, interests, and why they want to experience life in the United States. 

Become a Host Family for Foreign Exchange Students With AYUSA

Although we do have some requirements to host a foreign exchange student, at AYUSA we believe anyone who is willing to open their door and heart to an international student is a great candidate for becoming a host family. 

Hosting an exchange student is an incredible, life-changing experience that you and your family will remember fondly forever. It’s a wonderful way to forge new friendships, develop an understanding and appreciation of different cultures, and make a real difference in a young student’s life. 

If you’re ready to embark on this journey, request more information or start your application today. We can’t wait to match you with your new exchange student!

Sharing cultures and building communities with high school exchange.

Start application