High School Homestay Exchange

Help build cultural exchange in your community by hosting a student from your sister city for an academic year or semester!

The High School Homestay Exchange Program is an opportunity for member cities to host students from their sister city for a year or semester of high school in the United States. The international cities choose the high school students, who must be between the ages of 15 and 18 1/2 on the first day of school. Once the student is in the United States, the U.S. sister city will provide oversight for the student, recruit a host family, and include the student in sister city activities. 

High School Homestay Families and Exchange StudentsThis is a wonderful opportunity to help a young person experience life and culture in the U.S. The program is at the heart of Sister City International’s mission of creating bonds between people from different cities around the world. In addition, the program benefits host families and local school communities. Students frequently report that their experiences are “life-changing”, and indeed they often make friendships that last a lifetime. 

As a U.S. State Department-designated sponsoring organization, Sister Cities International can process the J-1 secondary school student visa.

Sister Cities International is also a member of and received provisional listing status from the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) for the 2017-2018 academic year!  CSIET is a not-for-profit organization committed to quality international educational travel and exchange for youth at the high school level.



Click here to download a High School Homestay Exchange Program flyer to share with your network.

The Exchange and Eligibility Requirements

  • Students must be between ages 15 and 18½ to qualify.
  • Local sister city programs will have the autonomy to choose their participant(s), recruit host families, coordinate school placement, and monitor the student while he/she is in the U.S.
  • Host communities must be Sister Cities International dues-paying members.

Important Dates

  • April 1: Selection of Local Coordinator (by U.S. sister city member).
  • April 1: Selection of International Coordinator (by international sister city).
  • May 1: Submit full application form for fall semester or academic year (by International Coordinator and student).
  • June 1: Submit payment to Sister Cities International.
  • October 1: Submit full application form for spring semester (by International Coordinator and student).

Interested in Becoming a Local Coordinator?

Do you enjoy helping young people explore the world around them? Are you passionate about nurturing international exchange in your community? If so, please consider applying to be a Local Coordinator for the High School Homestay Exchange program. Local Coordinators play a vital role in ensuring that students have a safe and enjoyable experience during their exchange in the U.S. They recruit local host families and help place students in schools nearby. After successful completion of the program, Local Coordinators will receive a stipend in the amount of $525 per academic year student and $425 per semester student. Please see the application HERE, flyer with more information HERE, and contact Alyssa Fox, membership manager for youth programs, at afox@sistercities.org if you have any questions.

Program Costs

  • $3,500/academic year (includes insurance).
  • $2,900/semester (includes insurance).
  • SEVIS fee: $180 (visa fee paid online upon registration in the SEVIS system, a government database that contains information about international students and exchange visitors in the U.S.).
  • Airfare: cost varies (purchased by student).
  • Other costs not covered by the program (spending money, books, school registration fees, etc.).

Frequently Asked Questions for Students

I would like to study in my city’s sister city in the U.S. How can I apply?
In order to apply to the High School Home Stay Exchange Program, the partner city in the U.S. must first have an appointed Local Coordinator, who will help recruit host families and coordinate student placements in local high schools. The Local Coordinator will also help reach out to volunteers in your city (International Coordinators) who can help with the application process. To find out if your partner city has a local coordinator in place, please use our City Search tool and reach out to the main point of contact listed on the city’s page. If a Local Coordinator has been appointed, they will send you the application materials.
Are there any English language proficiency tests that I will need to take?
Every applicant will need to take the English Language Test for International Students (ELTiS) test. Beginning in early 2016, the test will be offered online. More information will be available soon. 
What kind of medical insurance will I need to participate?
SCI will provide all student applicants with medical insurance coverage during their time in the U.S. The coverage fees are included in the application fees. Information about the insurance policy will be available soon. 


For more information on the High School Homestay Exchange, please email Alyssa Fox, membership manager for youth programs, at afox@sistercities.org.

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As the world becomes smaller, and connections online become more frequent than face-to-face interactions, multicultural understanding at the community level is more important than ever. Sister Cities International enables citizen diplomats in communities across the world to develop relationships with communities in other countries that are based on cultural understanding and mutual cooperation.Donate