Host Family FAQ

Who is eligible to host?

All types of families are encouraged to apply; there is no “typical” AFS Host Family. Families can have small or teenage children at home, be empty nesters with adult children, or be couples with no children. Single adults and single parents are also welcome. Families shouldn’t worry about being too busy – AFS provides a great support network of volunteers who arrange activities for the exchange students; however, the more opportunity the AFS Exchange Student has to experience your life, the better!

Are host families paid?

No, host families are not paid. However, you will be entitled to a tax deduction each month that an AFS student stays in your home.

What is required of an AFS Host Family?

As a host family, you will provide your student with:
  1. The opportunity to participate in your family’s daily lives and events
  2. The same care, support, and comfort you would another member of your family
  3. A bed, not convertible or inflatable in nature; sharing a room with a sibling of the same gender close in age is fine
  4. Three quality meals, including lunches and meals eaten as a family in restaurants

What is a host family’s financial obligation?

AFS students arrive with their own spending money for social and school activities, clothes, etc. As a host family, you will not need to provide spending money or an allowance.

Will the host family need to cover medical expenses?

No, your student will come with secondary medical insurance so that, in an emergency, the student can be treated as soon as possible. There is also a 24-hour support phone number in case of any emergency.

Are host families responsible for enrolling their AFS student in school?

Yes, although AFS first gets permission from the high school to accept your exchange student. AFS works with schools to ensure exchange students are in compliance with each school’s policies and procedures. Your family will fill out the same paperwork at the school as you would for your own children. You and your student will meet with the counselor to determine the classes your student will take. AFS Volunteers can offer suggestions and assistance if needed. AFS enjoys an excellent reputation with high schools across the country, and we value a close working relationship with the schools that we serve.

How are students selected?

AFS students are required to meet a high standard of qualifications to be accepted by the AFS office in their home country, as well as by AFS-USA. They must:
  1. be between 15-18.6 years old on arrival
  2. demonstrate a commitment to academic motivation and possess solid grades
  3. be in good general health and meet the medical criteria

Does the student speak English?

Yes, all students have a demonstrated level of proficiency in English. Our students come to the U.S. with a desire to immerse themselves in the language and to improve their level of proficiency.

Who are AFS Exchange Students?

AFS students come from more than 90 countries, and are seen as role models and leaders in their home communities by demonstrating maturity and motivation to study abroad. Students attend high school in the U.S. during their program.

How long do students stay with host families?

Year program students stay for 10 months and arrive in mid-August. Semester students stay for 5 months and arrive in either mid-August or mid-January.

Are there shorter hosting opportunities?

Yes, if your family cannot commit to hosting for a full year or semester, you can become a welcome family and host a student upon their arrival for 6-12 weeks while AFS-USA works to identify a permanent home for the student in the same community. Replacement families are also always needed; these are families that agree to host a student for the remainder of the program after the student has been moved from a different semester or year family.

Does AFS have rules for participants?

Yes. AFS students are expected to obey all the AFS rules and policies that are applicable while on their program. Should a student break a rule such as driving, hitchhiking, or partaking in illegal drugs, they will have their program terminated. Hosted participants are expected to obey U.S. laws. We also limit independent travel by students. You will be provided with a Host Family Handbook, which contains information on these rules, at or before your pre-arrival orientation for host families.

Can I host more than one student?

Yes, families can host two students at a time. Some host families decide hosting two is better than one and find the hosting experience is even more rewarding. Both students and their parents must approve this arrangement. We also require that they speak different native languages to insure that only English is used in your home. Read about the Eubanks and Kerr families' experiences hosting two students.

What if problems arise?

AFS Volunteers have a lot of experience in placing participants with families and we provide extensive support throughout the year. However, if the placement does not work out satisfactorily, AFS assumes responsibility to move the participant to another family.

Can home-schoolers host AFS students?

Yes. However, AFS Exchange Students must be enrolled at an accredited high school and cannot be home-schooled with their host siblings. U.S. Department of State regulations "require all exchange students to be enrolled and participating in a full course of study at an accredited academic institution" as secondary school students.

Why does AFS conduct criminal background checks?

The safety and welfare of our participants is our highest value. The criminal background check is an integral part of the screening process that AFS-USA staff, volunteers and host family members must undergo before being affiliated with our program. The U.S. Department of State and CSIET require that AFS conducts criminal background checks for all members of the host family home aged 18 years and older. For more information on AFS Safety Standards, visit our section on Health and Safety.

State Specific Requirements: Pennsylvania Residents are required to submit up to three additional screening requirements which include the Pennsylvania State Police Search, Child Abuse History Clearance and FBI Fingerprint Background Checks. The FBI Fingerprint Background Check is only required if you have not been a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the previous 10 years consecutively. These requirements apply to host parents or any adult 18 years and older responsible for the direct care, well-being and/or supervision of a minor exchange student. See more information Pennsylvania screening reqiurements.

Can LGBTQ+ parents host a student?

AFS-USA welcomes all families that are willing and able to provide a safe and loving home for an AFS student. Learn more about hosting as an LGBTQ+ family.