High School in America

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Youth Exchange section

“Exchange programs grew from a desire for nations and their peoples to build bridges of understanding after World War II. Since then, youth exchange has grown and gained popularity in many countries throughout the world, including yours! Youth exchange is successful because teenagers have the opportunity to learn about another country and culture by living as a member of a host family, not as a guest. By sharing their daily activities, people have the chance to learn substantively about each other’s lives and cultures. Exchange participants gain lifelong friendships and a “second family” in another part of the world. Youth exchange creates the possibility for positive impact with the student’s peers, schools, communities, parents, and ultimately, relationships among nations. Many of today’s leaders have themselves participated in an exchange experience and can attest to its positive impact on their lives.”

What is the High School in America Program?

The High School in America program is an academic-year program for secondary school students interested in living and studying in the United States of America. Participants will live with volunteer host families and will study at an American high school. Over the course of the program, students will also benefit from business training and will meet with leaders in their local area and at the national level. Through our Leadership Plan participants in the program will gain skills to become successful leaders and entrepreneurs, giving our participants an edge in an increasingly competitive global job market.

What do program fees cover?

  • Placement with a selected and screened U.S. host family for one year
  • Enrollment in a U.S. secondary school
  • Program orientation activities including pre-program preparation and re-entry preparation
  • Program activities arranged in local U.S. communities
  • Medical insurance, excluding pre-existing conditions, copays, and dental care
  • 24-hour student support while in the U.S.

What is NOT provided?

  • Any costs associated with receiving an international passport
  • Round-trip domestic and international travel (from the Gateway city in your home country to the United States host community and back)
  • Costs for applying for a U.S. visa
  • Required immunization
  • School fees
  • Personal expenses
  • Excess baggage costs
  • Telephone calls or internet use, including access to email

Who is eligible to apply?

  1. Eligible applicants must:


  • Meet the grade and age requirements set for their country
  • Be enrolled in a secondary school at the time of application, and not to have completed secondary school before arriving to the U.S.
  • Be born between August 1, 2001-August 1 2003.


  1. Have an academic standing of good or better
  2. Have previously studied English and demonstrate English language ability at the time of registration
  3. Meet U.S. visa eligibility requirements
  • Reside in and be able to receive an international passport in the country where they apply to the program.

Who is NOT eligible to apply?

Students are not eligible to apply if:
  • Applicant does not meet the above criteria
  • Applicant has studied in the U.S. before on a J-1 or F-1 visa
  • Applicant’s family (or a member of the family) applied or is applying to emigrate to the U.S., made plans to emigrate to the U.S., or has already emigrated to the U.S.

When and how can I apply?

  • Interested candidates who meet the eligibility requirements are invited to complete a preliminary online application located at https://ais.americancouncils.org/hsamerica.
  • A selection committee will evaluate online applications and select semifinalists. Semifinalists will receive a longer application, take an English language proficiency test, write a composition, and be interviewed by program staff. Applicants will then be asked to complete an online application with more detailed information.

What happens after notification?

  1. Upon notification, finalists, alternates, and their parents will receive information to prepare them for their departure. They must officially notify the program in writing that they accept a spot in the program and must provide any additional documentation requested at that time. Students must begin the process of applying for or renewing their international passport immediately upon acceptance to the program. The program will instruct participants on the process of applying for a U.S. visa.
  2. The program will match finalists with qualified U.S. host families and arrange for enrollment in local secondary schools. Participants will have pre-departure orientations in June/July, and will then travel to their U.S. host families and communities to begin their U.S. exchange experience in August 2019.
  3. Please note: Students participating in the program must return to their home country at the end of the program on the date assigned by the sponsor. The U.S. visa issued for program participants will not be amended or extended beyond the program end date for any reason.

What should you consider before applying to the program?

Students who are interested in the program should consider whether taking part in a year-long exchange program may have an adverse impact on their academic or personal future. Things to consider include but are not limited to:

  • Will I have to repeat a year of school after returning home?
  • Will I be home too late in 2020 to take final school examinations/university/institute entrance examinations? Program participants return to their home countries in late May and June 2020.

Will I be required to serve in the military upon return to my home country?

  • Will I be eligible to graduate with honors at my home school?
  • Certain classes needed for school in my home school are not available in US high schools.
  • Depending on the school and state, you may not be eligible to participate in competitive athletic competitions due to local and state regulations.
  • Finally, although students attend a U.S. high school, the curriculum is substantially different from that in other countries, and it is likely you will not learn the same subject material. The program cannot guarantee you will receive a U.S. high school diploma during your exchange year, but will provide a record for the coursework you do complete.

Who organizes the program?

American Councils for International Education, is proud to organize the High School in America (HSA) program. American Councils has been working on exchange programs for over 40 years. Together with our partners, we have helped young people from over 60 countries develop leadership skills.

How can I get more information?

Email us at: hsa@americancouncils.org

Apply now! 

Where will I stay while in the US?

The program will identify a host family and community for you. Students have lived in all of the fifty states, and most placements are in smaller towns and with many types of families from families with teenagers, retirees, and others. Requests for a specific type of family or geographic area in the United States are not granted. Living with family members in the U.S. is strictly prohibited.

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