One reason AFS stands out from other international exchange programs is the diversity of students that we host in the U.S. We offer our AFS teams, local communities, and schools the opportunity to host students from over 90 countries around the world. In addition to our academic year and semester hosting programs we also offer shorter hosting programs and a community college program. To learn more about our hosting programs and countries click here and you will be directed to the hosting page on the AFS-USA website.
Academic (Year & Semester)
Our academic year and semester programs are what we call our "traditional" or "core" hosting programs. Students are between 15 and 18.5 years old upon arrival. All students attend school and live with host families. They come to the U.S on J-1 visas and are subject to the regulations outlined by the Department of State (DoS) and CSIET.
Year program students arrive in August (NH) and depart in June. Semester program students arrive in August (NH) or January (SH). Semester program students depart in January if they are a August (NH) arrivals or in June if they are a January (SH) arrival. All of these students attend high school.
AFS-USA currently welcome host students on three scholarship programs sponsored by the Department of State. Those programs are the YES (Youth Exchange and Study) Program, the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program, and the CBYX (Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange) Program.
The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program evolved out of a generalized recognition that public diplomacy efforts had been neglected in many countries around the world for many years and that the effects of this came into stark focus in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001. AFS took a lead in rallying the exchange community and the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the U.S. Department of State to approach Congress with a coherent plan for support of meaningful opportunities for youth exchange as a key component of renewed commitment to building bridges between citizens of the U.S. and countries around the world, particularly those with large Muslim populations.
The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program is a competitive, merit-based scholarship program funded by the U.S. Department of State. FLEX students who pass multiple rounds of testing earn a scholarship to spend an academic year in the United States living with a volunteer host family and attending a U.S. high school. FLEX students gain leadership skills, learn about American society and values, and teach Americans about FLEX countries and cultures.
The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX or CB, German name: Parlamentarisches Patenschafts-Programm or PPP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the German Bundestag, is a scholarship awarded to outstanding young adults for a year of study in Germany or the United States. Scholarships cover expenses for program fees, pre-departure and arrival orientations, secondary health coverage, and ensures careful placement with a U.S. family that is eager to share themselves with the world. Since established in 1983, some 24,000 German and American students have completed their exchange through the program.
Community College Program
The AFS-USA Community College Program offers high school graduates who are 18 or older an opportunity to kick-start the next stage of their academic and intercultural journey under the care and guidance of AFS-USA.
While there are similarities between this program and the AFS high school hosting program, the AFS Community College Program is for students looking for an intensive English-language study opportunity and/or a serious academic program.
Students live with host families who are available to guide and mentor the community college student, and at the same time, will also expect the student to self-initiate more activities with friends and use transportation on their own. Students are treated as young adults and are expected, in many ways, to take care of themselves and their responsibilities. The student is usually expected to take part in some family activities, especially evening meals, family celebrations, and holidays. Families may also choose to plan some sightseeing excursions with their student.
Students on the AFS Community College program are on a very different visa from the high school students. The F-1 visa intent is for academic programs, versus the J-1 visa intent is primarily for public diplomacy. The F-1 visa is obtained from the U.S. Embassy when the college provides an I-20. The college is responsible for reporting to the U.S. Government on the status of the student and his/her visa.
AFS-USA maintains the standards of the AFS network for program excellence and student safety. To learn more about this program click here where you will be directed to the Community College page on the AFS-USA website.
Global Prep USA Programs
The AFS Global Prep USA programs were first started in 2011 as short summer programs for high school students. The first program was launched in Maryland, and since then, the program expanded to San Diego, and grew from solely high school programs, to include a six week version in the winter for 18+ international participants. Currently, these programs are characterized by thematic morning curriculum that helps to develop language skills and increased awareness of global issues - like the Environment, Immigration, Government Policies and Leadership. Afternoon activities and excursions round out the programs and reinforce thematic learning.
One of the most important additions to the Global Prep USA programs has been the Changemaker curriculum developed in partnership between AFS and Ashoka Youth Venture. As the Global Prep participants learn more about the U.S. culture and global issues, this curriculum helps them analyze their host and home neighborhoods, comparing both the positives and negatives, before developing a change making project in their home communities. The goal of the Changemaker social entrepreneurship curriculum is to empower the AFSers to create change in their own community and the world.
The Global Prep USA program is currently offered in San Diego, CA and Washington D.C. For more information on these programs you can click here where you will be directed to the Global Prep page on the AFS-USA website.