What makes a good host family?

United Studies staff looks for families with a genuine interest in people of other cultures, their languages and customs. We also look for families that are flexible, have open communication and have the desire to allow a young man or young woman from a foreign country to truly be a part of their family. Size, wealth and age of the family members are not the most important ingredients.

Exchange students have been happily placed in many diverse family situations. Families with small children, no children, even one-parent families have successfully hosted students in the past, with the same goals: to experience a new culture, develop a lasting relationship with a new son or daughter, and foster international understanding with hopes that they can contribute to world peace for a better tomorrow.

Learn more below.

Who Can Host?

We consider all types of families, including families with young children, high school children, grown children, or no children. Host parents can be single parents or married couples (including same-sex couples).

We especially seek host families who:

  • can provide a warm, welcoming home to an exchange student;
  •  have a genuine interest in people of other cultures, their language and customs;
  • primarily speak English in the home (since our exchange students are hoping to improve their English fluency while they’re here);
  • are flexible;
  • are communicative; and
  • want to make a young person from another country a part of their family.

All of our host families have the same goal: to experience a new culture, develop a lasting relationship with a new son or daughter, and foster international understanding with hopes that they can contribute to world peace for a better tomorrow.

What is expected of a Host Family?

  • To provide an open and welcoming home for a student from another country.
  • To accept a United Studies local coordinator into the home for a family interview and orientation in preparing for the student to arrive, and then after the students arrives, to allow United Studies to evaluate the student’s adjustment to the family and his/her new surroundings.
  • To provide adequate room for personal belongings. A separate room is not required, provided the student has their own bed and there is sufficient room for storage of personal belongings and some privacy.
  • To include a new son or daughter in family activities as a member of the family. The student may be given certain responsibilities such as taking care of his/her room and sharing household duties with other family members.
  • To be sensitive to the student’s needs and feelings as he or she adjusts to a new, exciting and sometimes lonely and frightening experience of living in a new country.
  • To be aware of the student’s financial position. The student will bring money with him/her for personal expenses and will need help in opening a bank account in his/her own name.
  • To make a genuine effort to provide an environment in which the student can learn as much as possible about the USA.

How are United Studies students selected?

United Studies works with partner organizations in various countries who recruit and screen top high school students each year. The students are selected based on their academic abilities and are tested for English proficiency. Students are then interviewed in English and their native language. Once the students have successfully passed the testing, their applications are reviewed by United Studies staff and occasionally personal video interviews are conducted. All students attend an orientation in their home country before coming to the United States. The orientation provides them with a basic knowledge of the United States along with program policies.

When and how will students arrive?

The majority of our students arrive in the fall and will stay either a semester or through the academic year. There are some students who arrive for the start of the spring semester. Host families have the opportunity to share preferences and will be given plenty of time to prepare for a student’s arrival. Typically students will fly into a major airport and then connect to a regional airport near their host family. Host families are expected to meet them at the airport for their arrival.

How much does hosting cost?

There is no fee to apply or be a host family! However, all costs associated with hosting a student are a host family’s responsibility. This includes food (3 meals per day), transportation, and activities.​ For all intents and purposes, you are adding another member to your family for the duration of their stay.​​​ Students have their own spending money for personal expenses as well as accident and illness insurance.

Who will help if things get tough?

We will! United Studies has a dedicated team of local coordinators – people you may already know! You can get to know them through interviews, home visits, school and other community events – they live in your area. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them if there is any question or concern.

If further assistance is required or a problem arises, just ​contact us​. We’re a small and friendly team and are on call 24/7.

Are student applications available to view?

Yes, of course. Some information such as photos and some personal details are not available to those who are not yet approved host families but everyone can have a Sneak Preview of our student profiles. Once a family is fully approved they can see photos of unplaced students.

View Student Sneak Previews

What is the application process?

Interested potential host parents will:

  • Complete a host family application
  • Complete a background check for all family members over 18 years old
  • Be interviewed in the home by a United Studies area representative
  • Give three local references who will be contacted to give character input
  • Choose the student to become a new family member (this can be done with as much input as wanted from United Studies)