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 Hosting a student means welcoming an adventurous teenager into your home and treating  him/her as your own son or daughter, supporting him/her through academics and other enrichment  activities and including him/her in your family life and traditions throughout the year. Here are a few  things you need to know about the hosting experience:

Duration of Hosting Experience

Your new family experience can last an entire school year or one semester. Occasionally, families are short term (two to four weeks) such as in a ‘welcome’ or ‘emergency’ situation.

Value of Hosting an International Exchange Student

DOS letter to HF imageHosting an exchange student can be a very exciting and rewarding experience. Many host families and students create lifelong relationships, continuing to visit and connect with one another in the years following the student’s program year. Giving the gift of ‘opportunity’ for a student to study in the U.S. has many benefits for a host family, including:

•    Gaining a deeper understanding of another culture.

•    Building lifelong friendships, extending family relationships.

•    Sharing family values, traditions and ideals that will in turn be shared across the world.

•    Host families with children give their own children an opportunity to share, think outside themselves, learn tolerance and compassion for someone who is different and create awareness for similarities that exist between each culture.

•    Developing the ability to see the world from a new point-of-view while learning how to navigate through the unique challenges, personality and cultural differences that arise while hosting a young teenager far from home.

Do You Really Need My Family to Host?

Yes!  Every year, the United States welcomes roughly 30,000 international exchange students into its high schools on the J-1 Visa program. Each student needs a family willing to welcome, love, and guide him or her through the year.

What Makes a Family a Good Candidate for Hosting?

•    A love of young people

•    An adventurous spirit

•    A desire to share family ideals, traditions, American culture

What Types of Families Can Host?

•    Two parent families with children

•    Single parent families with children

•    Empty-nesters

•    Adults with no children

What are Host Families Required to Provide Their Students?

•    A loving home

•    Access to school (and support with academics & enrichment activities)

•    Three meals a day

•    A bed for the student (no sharing; though students can share a bedroom with a sibling of the same gender)

•    A place to study

Do Host Families Get Paid by the Student?

No, host families may not receive financial support for hosting exchange students in the J-1 program. This program is designed to be a cultural exchange, homestay experience and host families are volunteers. The J-1 visa is not a travel and tourism opportunity for our students. They understand that their time ‘on program’ is meant to be spent on academics and cultural exchange as they become a member of your family!

You can however deduct some of the expenses of having a student live with you.  You may deduct $50 per month that the student lives with you.  For more information from the IRS about Charitable Contributions and how to report this deduction, visit:

When Is a Good Time to Sign Up for Hosting?

January: New students are available to be selected as early as the January prior to the next academic school year. The best time to select students is before the end of June prior to the coming school year. The U.S. Department of State mandates that all students must be placed in homes and accepted by schools before they can fly, giving the industry a deadline of August 31st for placement. Early placements ensure host families and students the opportunity to get to know one another before the program year begins.

Can I Choose My Exchange Son or Daughter?


Remember, you can select a student based on specific criteria such as: gender/willingness to attend church/favorite hobby or sport, etc. BUT many students would like to try something new when they get here, so the soccer player you hoped to host might like to try-out for the school play. A student with a lot of confidence and who is outgoing in his/her home country may be shy and nervous when he/she arrives.

The most important thing when selecting a student is to remember that you are inviting a young person into your home—there are a lot of variables involved! Try not to get stuck on specifics, but keep the broader picture in mind. Forte staff will help guide you through the selection process to help you find the best match. Remember to be compassionate, open and flexible with your new son or daughter—and don’t forget to be a parent! Then enjoy the experience--an adventure you share together.

Selection criteria available to host families includes:

•    Gender

•    Age

•    Religious preferences

•    Home country

•    Hobbies

•    Lifestyle

•    Values

•    Personal Essay

For more information on hosting, please click on the link and fill in your contact information. Forte staff will be in touch!