Become a Host Family

Hosting an international student will not only broaden your global world perspective, but will enrich and educate your family and community in ways you never imagined! Join ICES today and become a host family for an international high school exchange student.


Welcome to Become a Host family with ICES

In today’s world, we are looking for ways to bring unity, peace, and understanding to our communities. Hosting an exchange student is an excellent step in that direction. It is a fun and enriching experience that will benefit your family in many ways.

Whether you have already reviewed the “Host Family Program” information and made the decision to host or are still contemplating hosting, this step-by-step guide will help prepare you for the process so that you can better understand what to expect.


Step-By-Step Guide


Step 1 – Complete a Host Family Application

Your ICES Local Coordinator can set up an online application or provide you with a hard copy if you prefer. The application is brief and will ask general information about your family members, your home, and your community so we can verify that you are eligible to host.


Step 2 – Submit to a criminal background check

Student safety is our top priority. Part of your host family screening includes a criminal background check, which is paid for by ICES. This is required for everyone 18 and older who lives in your home, and may be submitted via our secure online portal or by completing a hard copy authorization form.


Step 3 – Receive an in-home visit

Your Local Coordinator will schedule a time to come to your home and meet with all family members together. During this visit, they will explain the program in more detail, answer any questions you might have, and get to know your family. They will also tour your home, taking pictures of the common areas of the home and the student’s bedroom and bathroom. The home visit usually takes 1-2 hours.


Step 4 – Select your exchange student

For most families, the most exciting part of the application process is selecting the student who will live with your family. You may select a student who shares your interests, hobbies, or faith, or perhaps choose a student from a particular part of the world with a culture that interests you. Who you host is entirely up to you.

Check out this ICES Blog post for more ideas how to select your student!

BLOG: Choosing the Right Student for Your Family

In case you’re having trouble deciding between two students, you might consider hosting both of them. This is a wonderful opportunity to expand your family even more by hosting two students from different countries. Please note that students who speak the same native language may not be placed in the same family.

This Blog post about hosting two students might be of interest:

BLOG: Double Placements–Twice the Fun!

Your Local Coorinator will provide you with student profiles that include general information about the student and an introductory letter from the student. After your background checks have cleared–usually in a day or two–and you have been confirmed as eligible to host, you will have access to additional information, including student photos and a letter from the student’s natural parents. As you go through the process of selecting a student, feel free to ask advice from your Local Coordinator who will be happy to make suggestions or give opinions on which student might be the best fit for you. Note that your local high school may have admission restrictions that will need to be considered as you select a student. Your Local Coordinator will assist you in finding the right student for your family.

You can always get a ‘preview’ of available exchange students by checking out the “Meet Our Students” section this our website. Just click on the button below!



Step 5 – ICES obtains acceptance at your local high school

Your Local Coordinator will get in touch with your local high school to obtain acceptance for the student’s enrollment, get school start and end dates, and find out about any special requirements the school may have for exchange students. There is nothing you need to do for this part of the process.


Step 6 – Get to know your student

Once the placement has been finalized, you will be able to start getting to know your student right away. You can start bonding with your student through email, Skype, social media, or phone calls. It is fun and exciting to start learning about one another’s personalities and cultures. Perhaps they can share additional pictures of their family, friends, and hometown with you, and you can help them get an idea of what to expect when they arrive.

Here’s a couple of ICES Blog posts with more ideas how to get to know your student before they arrive:

BLOG: 100 Questions to Help You Get to Know Your Exchange Student
BLOG: 10 Ways to Bond with Your Exchange Student Before They Arrive


Step 7 – Participate in a host family orientation

The Local Coordinator will conduct a required host family orientation before the student arrives. The orientation will address cultural differences, program rules, and solutions to common challenges, as well as give you the opportunity to ask any questions you still have about your role as the host family. You may also be able to meet other families in your area that will be hosting at the same time.

After this last step you should be ready to embark on an amazing adventure with your new family member.

Reach out to your Local Coordinator for anything you need

We do our best to prepare you for the hosting experience, but you will likely have questions along the way. Don’t hesitate to contact your Local Coordinator if you have questions, need assistance, or simply want some advice. All of us at ICES want this experience to be a fun and rewarding one for your family and your exchange student.


Start the process to Become a Host Family

Simply let us know by sending a request through our online form. We will put you in touch with a Local Coordinator in your community who can answer questions, assist with the application process, and help you find the right student for your family. ICES has been bringing international students to the U.S. since 1991, and we’ll use our experience to make your experience smooth and easy.

Click the button below to Start the process!
We’d love to talk with you!