Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Host Family

Looking to learn more about our host family requirements, exchange student acceptance policy, paid exchange program opportunities, and more? Check out our Host Family FAQ

Read the Host Family Handbook to learn more!

If you have a question that isn’t answered below, send us a message!

Host Family Requirements

  • Treat your student like a family member, not a guest. He or she should have the same privileges and obligations as your own children. Hosting an international high school exchange student and being a host family is the experience of a lifetime!
  • Exercise supervisory and parental responsibility to ensure the student’s well being. 
  • Provide a quiet place in the home where the student can study.
  • Provide a room with an exit window, bed, and storage with no more than one roommate of the same sex.
  • Provide three meals per day. Note: If the student chooses to buy lunch at school rather than bring from home, they are responsible for the cost.
  • Cooperate with ISE by adhering to program regulations, guidelines, and policies (regular progress reports, home visits, etc.)
  • Acknowledge the student’s birthday and other special occasions.
  • Ensure the exchange student knows how to contact family members, friends, and other support networks.
  • As a host family you are not expected to help students apply to US schools or drive students to college test preparation services or campus visits.

Additional requirements apply. Contact us for more details.


Here are the steps to host a student:

  1. Contact International Student Exchange and complete our host family interest form
  2. We will then send you more information regarding our host family requirements, as well as our host family application. This will allow you to tell us about your family, household and lifestyle.
  3. Since safety is our priority, every potential host family must pass a background check and home check.
  4. Once accepted, you will be able to work with a local area representative to select an exchange student.

Do you have a spare bedroom, welcoming attitude, and desire to make a positive impact in a child’s life? If so, odds are you’d make a great host family! Our host families come from all over the United States and represent the diversity that the country is known for. They live on farms, in bustling cities, and everywhere in-between. Families with children, families without children, empty nesters, and single individuals have all had successful host family experiences. Volunteer host families make the world go round!

While successful host families may come from all walks of life, they share many of the same traits. They are welcoming, patient, understanding, and committed to their student’s success and well-being. We’re sure you will be a great host family!

Read some tips and tricks from families that have done it!

There are countless benefits to hosting international exchange students. Below you will find some of the great benefits that come along with being a host family.

  1. Experience and learn about a new culture
  2. Create a lifelong friend
  3. Have a positive impact on your family and local community

To read more about the impact you can have as a host family, check out awesome blog articles!

No, all of our host families are volunteers. Families are eligible for a tax deduction for hosting a student. If you are looking for paid opportunities within the ISE exchange program, consider becoming an Area Representative.

For more information on the J-1 Visa program, visit j1visa.state.gov.

Our cultural exchange programs run for 5, 10, or 12 months. The 5-month programs can start in either August or January, the 10-month program begins in August, and the 12-month program begins in January.

ASAP – the earlier you apply to be a host family, the more likely it is that you’ll find a compatible student in your area. Host families should have their application finished at least one month before the start of your program, so you have time to get to know your student a bit before his or her arrival.

ISE exchange students arrive with their own money for personal expenses, social outings, and other activities. Host families are not required to provide any cash allowance.

Read about the Rules and Policies for the students.

A host family provides a bedroom, three meals a day, and – most importantly – a warm, nurturing environment to learn about American culture and to share their own.

No. ISE exchange students arrive with their own insurance. Any costs incurred by the student for medical care is the responsibility of the student’s natural parents or the student’s sponsoring agency.

Yes. Some families prefer the experience of hosting two exchange students at a time. To host two students, the students must come from different countries and speak different native languages.

ISE exchange students are 15-18-year-old high school students from over 40 countries around the world. Their program acceptance is based on their English skills, demeanor, adaptability, and eagerness to experience American culture.

Yes. All ISE exchange students speak English.

No, ISE exchange students expect to live as members of your family. This means respecting family rules, helping with chores, and participating in family gatherings and activities.

Our representatives are experts in making compatible student-host family placements and conduct monthly check-ins to keep the program running smoothly. If a problem arises, your representative is there to help you solve it. ISE also employs a full-time program support staff at our headquarters and operates a 24/7 hotline for students and families for additional assistance.

Read about Student’s Health Insurance.

Of course! We are always looking for people to join our incredible team of Area representatives. They help recruit new host families, work with local schools, and provide guidance and support throughout the year.