Perhaps you’ve dreamed about becoming an exchange student since you were old enough to go to school. Maybe you had a sibling or a friend who studied abroad and shared their experience with you. Whatever your reason for being here, we are excited for you and your future. You are about to embark on a journey that thousands of others just like you have done before and many thousands will do after.
Greenheart Exchange has been a sponsor of the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa since 1985. In our first year, we helped seven Spanish students find host families and attend high school in the U.S. on the J-1 visa. Now, we welcome over 1,000 participants each year who live with American families and study in high schools all across America.
The Department of State implemented a toll-free number (1-866-283-9090) for secondary school students, which was effective August 1, 2009. The toll-free number can be used by host families, exchange students and the public to report circumstances impacting the students’ health, safety and well being during their exchange visitor programs. You may also email the Department at jvisas[at]state[dot]gov.
Through the J-1 Exchange Program, exchange students attend school in one of many locations across the U.S. while living with a welcoming, volunteer American host family. There are two J-1 program options through Greenheart Exchange: the 10-month academic year program (typically August – May) or the 5-month semester program (typically August – December or January – May).
While on program, exchange students will improve their English, make new friends, gain leadership skills, volunteer in local communities, and, of course, serve as an ambassador to their home country. This program is a great choice for students who wish to experience American culture and step out of their comfort zone for an unforgettable and life-changing school year or semester.
The F-1 Academic Program is all about choice. Participants can choose from a list of schools and decide where in the US they’d like to study. Program lengths vary from 3 months (one trimester) to all 4 years of high school. At select schools, F-1 Academic Program participants are able to graduate with a high school diploma within one year! Like J-1 participants, F-1 participants live with local host families. This program is a great choice for students who want to tailor their international high school program or attend university in the US.
You may be wondering what the difference is between the J-1 Exchange Program and the F-1 Academic Program, and which program is the best fit for you. While there are many similarities between the two programs, there are some key differences that might impact your decision.
|Participants…||J-1 Visa||F-1 Visa|
|Live with a host family||✓||✓|
|Receive support from a Greenheart Local Coordinator||✓||✓|
|Can participate in events with Greenheart Exchange||✓||✓|
|Are covered by health and accident insurance||✓||✓|
|Have access to the Greenheart Club and volunteering resources||✓||✓|
|Choose their school subjects||✓||✓|
|Make memories that last a lifetime||✓||✓|
|Choose their location and school||–||✓|
|Earn a high school diploma||–||✓|
|Have multi-year program options||–||✓|
Click the ‘Learn More’ button to fill out an inquiry, and the Greenheart office will provide you with more information about our programs and assist you with any questions.
Greenheart Exchange is designated to administer the FLEX and YES Grant programs for international high school exchange students. Both programs are administered in partnership with the U.S. Department of State by a consortium of nonprofit organizations led by American Councils for International Education.
The Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) was established in 1992 shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. The program provides an opportunity for students to gain leadership experience, learn about American society, and foster mutual understanding across cultures. The Department of State recognizes that youth exchange is a key component to building bridges between citizens of the U.S. and countries around the world.
FLEX students are from the following countries (may vary annually): Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) was established in October 2002, in response to the events of September 11, 2001. The program awards scholarships to high school students from countries with a significant Muslim population. YES students come from more than 40 countries.
Interested participants should apply through American Councils, as Greenheart Exchange only acts as an approved placement organization but is not responsible for recruitment of participants.
August 12-15, 2020
Please consult with your sending organization.
Greenheart Exchange’s Chicago Welcome Program is an additional offering to all Greenheart J1 and F1 high school exchange students. This 4 day, 3 night program prepares students to have a successful exchange year. Students will gain in-depth information on what it will be like to live with an American family, attend American high school and how to have a successful year in the U.S. They also will learn about the importance of volunteerism in American culture and participate in a service activity. In addition, we will be exploring the City of Chicago, seeing the sights, shopping, and having a ton of fun! Activities may include a city tour, Millennium Park, the Willis Tower Sky Deck, or Navy Pier. Students will make new friends and leave prepared to have the best year of their life!
For more information, contact your sending agency.
Greenheart was fortunate to be able to bring a small group of High School participants to the United States this year. Through careful consideration and cooperation, Greenheart has worked with host families, students, and schools throughout the U.S. to maintain this vital exchange program while keeping everyone’s health and safety at the forefront. We look forward to building upon our experience in 2021 and are grateful to all our stakeholders for their unwavering commitment to making the world a better place through cultural exchange.
We have begun placing participants for the 2021-22 school year. See how our organization is responding to COVID-19 by exploring the Frequently Asked Questions below.
Greenheart participants receive a pre-departure orientation from our Greenheart partners in their home country. This includes information regarding COVID-19 as it relates to their experience with their host family, time at school and within their American community. We also encourage participants and host families to connect and discuss any recent COVID-19 information or requirements within their community.
Participants agree to comply with all travel regulations from the time they depart home until they arrive in their host community. Everyone is expected to follow all local and state health guidelines.
Testing requirements for international travel are set by the US federal authorities and travel providers including airlines. As of January 26, 2021, all international travelers to the United States must provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19. Greenheart continues to monitor travel requirements on an ongoing basis. We expect that all participants will comply with travel requirements.
All participants are expected to follow all local and state health guidelines. This may include self-isolating in the home and/or testing.
All Greenheart participants are required to have health insurance to participate on the program which will cover for their care when ill. COVID-19 testing (if not medically necessary) and vaccines are not generally covered. If anyone within the host family home is exposed or has a confirmed case of COVID-19, they should notify Greenheart immediately and follow the guidance and requirements of local health authorities.
Vaccine availability varies widely throughout the world, and many countries are far behind the United States in their vaccine rollouts. Additionally, many vaccines have so far only been confirmed to be safe and viable for those age 18 and older. Until we see material changes in the situations in other countries, Greenheart will not be requiring the vaccine for our high school participants before their arrival.
Vaccine updates seem to occur daily. Greenheart will continue to monitor developments and communicate with host families, participants, and our partners abroad about the feasibility of students receiving the vaccine while on program in the United States. Currently, vaccines are not readily available for our participant population. Greenheart will continue to update our policy as the situation evolves.
Due to the nature of vaccine availability around the world, Greenheart deals with hundreds of students every year who are not able to get all the school required vaccines (non-COVID) in their home countries before they depart for the U.S. Upon these students’ arrivals, their host family and Local Coordinator will work together to ensure the student receives all the necessary vaccines to be able to attend school. If an American high school is requiring their students receive the COVID vaccine to attend classes, and the vaccine is safe, effective, and available for high school students in that area, Greenheart would treat the situation the same way as any other vaccine and help the student receive the COVID vaccine upon their arrival before the beginning of school.
No, Greenheart will not be requiring host families or coordinators to receive the vaccine.
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