MORE INFORMATION ON HOSTING
AFICE HOST FAMILIES
AFICE selects host families that are open and eager to learn as well as share experiences with a teen-ager from an overseas country. By living as a member of your family and particpating in both school and community activities, your student will develop an awareness of the American way of life that would be impossible to acquire in any other way. The warmth and companionship between the host family and exchange student have proven to be the single most beneficial element in the student's international experience.
BECOMING A HOST FAMILY
The first step to becoming a host family is to meet with your AFICE Community Representative for an interview with your entire family. Your Community Representative will help you select a student by bringing student profile sheets for you to review while you fill out your Host Family Application form (the screening process is one of the questions discussed in our Hosting FAQ). These files contain an overview of each student's interests and hobbies, along with a personal essay written by the student as well as a photograph of the student.
Participating students are between the ages of 15 and 18. AFICE believes that this age group is most receptive to adapting to a family living and academic experience in a new culture. All students are first carefully screened and must be recommended by a teacher or principal in their local school (overseas) before they are accepted to the program. Only those students who can evidence academic interest and achievement, curiosity, adaptability and good command of the English language are accepted. Each student must satisfactorily complete a personal interview by qualified representatives of AFICE.
AFICE students arrive with round-trip airline tickets issued to their final destinations. The exchange students also have complete medical coverage for the entire duration of their stay in the United States. The natural parents provide a monthly allowance and the American host families are responsible for room and board.
Exchange Students and their parents are required to attend an intensive orientation meeting overseas prior to their son's or daughter's departure.
THE EXCHANGE EXPERIENCE
The key to a successful exchange experience is the family relationship. The student will look to the host family for guidance and understanding. Treat your student as you would your own son or daughter. Family responsibilities and privileges should be the same for them as for your own children. Remember that your student is not a guest, but a family member. However, all AFICE students bring their own spending money, and are covered by medical insurance.
AFICE host families can expect that their students will abide by our rules and policies. AFICE students must also respect and follow the law.
Shortly after your exchange student arrives, your AFICE Community Representative will conduct a comprehensive orientation meeting. At this time students and host families are once more informed about the rules of behavior and official guidelines under which the AFICE program functions. At this meeting exchange students meet privately with their Community Representatives to become better acquainted.
Should any emergencies or difficulties arise, your Community Representative is there to help. In addition, every student and host family is furnished with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the AFICE Community Representative, Area Coordinator, the AFICE Director of Counseling, and the AFICE National Headquarters. The National AFICE Office has a 24-hour answering service in case of emergencies.
The Answers You Need
How well will my exchange student speak English?
All AFICE exchange students are carefully screened and selected by AFICE. Long term J-1 visa exchange students have a minimum of three years of English instruction, while Short Term students may only have one year of English. Exchange students on the J-1 visa program are typically given an English language Proficiency Test to qualify them as having a working knowledge of the English language.
What are the steps to becoming a host family?
Each potential host family must fill out an application form which provides a detailed summary and profile of the family. Each family is screened by an Community Representative in a home interview with all members of the family present. The host family must provide personal references from members of their community or school attesting to their good character. Prior to the host families acceptance, the references will be verified and the local high school is asked to fill out a form for the student which states that they have accepted the student for the school year.
If you'd like to get a jump start, here is a link to a PDF version* of the form you will need to fill out in order to host an AFICE student. Please click on the link below, either open or save the file, fill out the form, and fax or mail it to either the AFICE National Office or your local AFICE Community Representative.
AFICE Host Family Application: Download here!
Once you're ready to host, it is required that written permission be obtained for your student to attend the local high school in your area. Your AFICE Community Representative is required to contact the local high school, and will usually be the person to obtain this permission, but some host families like to get this process rolling right away -- especially as some schools have limits on the amount of exchange students they will accept, and students are approved on a first come/first served basis. Therefore, here is a link to AFICE's School Acceptance Form:
AFICE School Acceptance Form: Download here!
Am I qualified to host an exchange student?
Host families come in many shapes and sizes. There is no typical host family: families with teens, no children, young children, children who have grown, single parents and grandparents. Host families live in large cities, suburban areas, on farms and ranches, or in small communities. Our students are also from diverse family situations. Using your interests and preferences, your Community Representative will help you in matching an exchange student to your family situation.
Will my student want to live in a small town?
For most students this is not a problem at all. It's the family experience that really matters. Exchange students usually come to feel that their host family is just a new part of their natural family.
Our research shows that the majority of exchange students are hosted in small towns and rural areas throughout the United States. Because of the closeness of the populace in these areas, the students are quickly able to become a very special part of the school and community.
Does the student have to go to school?
While Short Term exchane students do not typically attend an American high school, students on the J-1 visa program are required to attend. School is an integral part of the J-1 exchange experience. It is essential that the exchange student becomes an active part of that system. The student is also encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities that are offered in each school. School attendance is also required by the U.S. Government for the student's visa to remain valid.
What must a host family provide for their student?
Exchange students must pay for all travel costs and medical insurance, and they are provided with spending money for the duration of their stay in the United States. Volunteer American host families provide students with a place to sleep, meals, and a loving supportive home life. Students are allowed to share a bedroom with the host family's teen of the same gender, but he or she must have their own bed.
Do I have to send my son or daughter overseas in order to host an exchange student?
No. The word "exchange" sometimes misleads people. Within the AFICE program, the word "exchange" refers to an exchange of cultures and ideas, as opposed to a literal exchange of family members, although American host brothers and sisters are welcome to apply as an AFICE American student and travel overseas.
How are Host Families screened?
Each prospective American host family is personally interviewed by the local Community Representative who also completes a Home Visit Screening Form. The prospective host family must complete a three page detailed Host Family Application covering the family's background, interests and hobbies.
Three personal references must be provided to the Community Representative, preferably one from an employer, and one from a community organization (church, service club, or other such organization), or from a friend who knows the family well, attesting to the stability and good repuation of the family.
The US Department of State requires that a criminal background check be performed on on each household member over the age of 18. Please note that a criminal history does not necessarily preclude a family from being qualified to host, but may serve as one of several criteria in determining whether or not a family is suitable for hosting.
The AFICE Community Representative contacts the local high school to obtain permission for an Exchange Student to attend the school.
Once qualified, the entire family becomes involved in the selection of the exchange student. Records of the student's placement are filed in the appropriate local, regional, national and international offices.
Are host families paid?
AFICE host families choose to participate because of the cultural benefits they gain from hosting. The US Department of State requires host families for J-1 students to be volunteers and does not permit payment for hosting. Host families may deduct a $50.00 per month charitable contribution deductible from their itemized tax returns for hosting. (The proper supporting documentation will be made available to you.) On the other hand, families who host Short Term exchange students do receive renumeration for hosting. Please contact AFICE for more information on hosting an exchange student!