Host Family Frequently Asked Questions
- Is AYA a non-profit organization?
AYA is a non-profit organization. This means that we are a 501(c)(3) organization, recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.
- What kind of visa do the students receive?
The students receive a J-1 exchange visitor visa. AYA issues a DS-2019 that secures a J-1 exchange student visa.
- How do I get accepted as a host family?
After you agree to host, you will complete a Host Family Application, which includes a high school profile, a community profile and a criminal background check release form. Along with the application we ask that you provide two references. You will also have an in-home interview.
- What are my primary responsibilities as a host family?
- Providing a student with a safe, supportive and loving home for the academic year or semester
- Welcoming a student as a member of the family and encouraging students to participate in all aspects of family life
- Providing a student with his/her own bed and a place to study, either in a room shared with a family member of the same sex and within four years of the student’s age, or in his/her own room
- Providing a student with meals, except school lunches (host families must provide lunches for grant students)
- Providing transportation to and from school (usually by school bus)
- Encouraging the exchange of ideas and providing students with exposure to the cultural and social environment of the home and neighborhood
- Providing the love and understanding a young person needs to enjoy a successful academic year in America
- What ages are the students, and from what countries do the students come?
The students range in age from 15 to 18 years old. These students come from a wide range of countries – Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, and many others.
- Do I get to choose my student?
Yes, you can choose your student from many different countries and profiles. You have the choice of hosting a boy or girl. You can choose your student based on different hobbies and interests.
- Does the student have insurance?
Yes, students have medical and accidental insurance through AYA or their sponsoring agency. Students receive an insurance card and a brochure detailing the policy coverage when they arrive in the U.S.
- How will my student get to and from school?
Your student can either walk, be driven to school by a family member or a friend with a driver’s license, or take the bus.
- Are the students allowed to participate in after-school activities?
Absolutely! The students are encouraged to join clubs and organizations to enhance their experience while living in America.
- Are the students allowed to drive?
The students are not allowed to drive any vehicles while they are on the exchange program. They are, however, allowed to take a Driver’s Ed. class as long as they do the driving portion with a licensed, certified, and insured instructor. They must also obtain approval from the AYA office before enrolling.
- How long is the student’s stay?
Students arrive in August for the 10-month full academic year or for the 5-month fall semester program, or in January for the 5-month spring semester program.
- Is there a tax deduction for the host family?
Yes, the tax deduction for the host family is $50 a month for each full month that your student is with you. AYA will send out letters in January regarding this issue.
- Will my student come with his/her own spending money?
Students are expected to have their own spending money for personal expenses (school lunches, supplies, clothes, entertainment).
- How will my student get to and from school?
Your student may walk, be driven to school by a family member or a friend with a driver’s license, or take the bus..
- When can I expect my student to arrive?
Students arrive in August for fall placements and in January for spring placements. Most students first attend an AYA-sponsored orientation and then fly from the orientation site to their host communities. Host families and Local Coordinators receive detailed flight information as soon as it is available.
- When does my student have to leave?
Students have open-ended return tickets. They book their own flights home with guidance from the national office and help from their Local Coordinators. Students must return home within two weeks after the last day of school or no later than June 30. This is required by the terms of their visa.
- Will I, as the host family, be in contact with my Local Coordinator throughout the year?
Yes, you are encouraged to call your Local Coordinator anytime with any questions or concerns you may have. The Local Coordinator is required by AYA to be in monthly contact with the host family and student. The Local Coordinator is also required to submit monthly reports on each student he/she is supervising. Many Local Coordinators set up student and host family events throughout the year in order to stay in touch.
- What happens if the placement doesn’t work out?
The Local Coordinator will work with a host family and student to try to resolve miscommunications, unrealistic expectations or cultural misunderstandings. Most of the time, misunderstandings can be resolved with the help of an objective mediator. If the Local Coordinator determines that things cannot be resolved, he/she will place the student with another host family (within the same school district when possible).
- What happens if my student has behavioral or academic problems during his/her stay in my house?
If any problem should arise, the Local Coordinator will step in and work with the student and family to determine what action is necessary. The students have strict rules about behavior and academics. They have signed a contract promising to abide by the rules.
- I have more questions!
Call Academic Year in America at 1-800-322-HOST or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although hosting an exchange student is a very big commitment, it is one that comes with huge rewards and benefits.
Scholarship funds are available for high school students to travel and study abroad in 2015! Click here for more information and to apply.