What is a Foreign Exchange Student?

Mar 21, 2019 2:20:12 AM


More foreign exchange students choose to live and study in the United State than in any other country. To give you an idea of the numbers, during 2017 - 2018 a record 1.1 million exchange students chose the U.S. as their host country.1

It’s the American lifestyle, high quality of education, and potential increase in future career opportunities that draws college and high school exchange students to the U.S.

Most international students will stay with a local family, experiencing our culture first-hand, and enjoying some of our favorite pastimes with their host families.

In this article we will cover:

  • What is a foreign exchange student?

  • The different exchange programs available.

What is a Foreign Exchange Student?

A foreign exchange student is usually a high school or college student who travels to a foreign country to live and study abroad, as part of a foreign exchange student program. Exchange students will attend classes at a local high school or university, usually as part of their current course of study.

As an exchange student, taking classes in a foreign country can help develop critical thinking, by approaching learning in a different way. The skills developed by a student during a foreign exchange program can become great selling points to prospective future employers.

Student playing guitar

International exchange students have a chance to improve their English language skills, develop new competencies, or even pick up a new hobby from a different culture.

When exchange students come to America, they are encouraged to get involved in some extracurricular activities. This is their opportunity to create the kind of school experiences they will remember in the future.

Many high schools and universities already have agreements in place with schools in different countries. This makes it easier for students from all over the world to join exchange programs or study abroad programs in the U.S.

Is There a Difference Between Study Abroad and Student Exchange Programs?

When students come to the U.S. they will be on either a study abroad program or student exchange program.

College and high school students coming to live in the USA will require a J-1 or F-1 visa, which will determine the type of program they are on.

Student Exchange Programs

Foreign exchange student programs are primarily focused on being a cultural exchange. students will be on a J-1 visa, with the intention to learn about American life and culture.

Two students overlooking city skyline

These programs are great for students and host families generally looking for shorter term arrangements. They are more likely to get involved in as many activities with their school or host families as they can.

Study Abroad Programs

A study abroad program is focused towards a students course of study. Students are on a F-1 visa, continuing their current studies at a local American high-school or university.

Group of students in classroom

For How Long Do Foreign Exchange Students Live and Study in the United States?

The length of time students lives and studies in the U.S. can be anywhere from one week to a full academic year at a time.  Many exchange students will stay for a few weeks to get a taste of American life and learn about a new culture The J-1 visa does allow students to stay for up to 12 months, although that is not often the case.

Study abroad programs are usually longer, with many students staying for at least a semester and sometimes a full academic year. The F-1 visa allows students to complete their entire course of study in the U.S. if they desire, which can be up to four years.

Group of students looking happy together

International students on a study abroad program tend to build strong relationships with their host families. It is not uncommon for students to complete a semester or full academic year, then return to the same host family and school, to continue their studies.    


Host families are vital to the foreign exchange student experience, and industry growth. AmeriStudent is one of the nation's leading homestay providers, our industry-leading training and support offers students and host families a safe and fulfilling experience. When you choose us as a host provider you get a fully supportive service, along with one of the most attractive payment rates in the U.S.

Call us to find out more about being a host family - 877-385-8425 - we would love to have a chat.


Read more about our host family services, including our application process.

We look forward to welcoming your family to the team.

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We are America's Favorite Homestay for Foreign Students!

Start your student homestay adventure with us today and find out why international student's from all over the world love AmeriStudent.

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We are America's Favorite Homestay for Foreign Students!

Start your student homestay adventure with us today and find out why international student's from all over the world love AmeriStudent.

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