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.
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 are grateful to all our stakeholders for their unwavering commitment to making the world a better place through cultural exchange even as we navigate a global pandemic and it’s aftermath.
Greenheart will not be requiring host families, participants, or local coordinators to receive a COVID vaccine. However, everyone on the BridgeUSA program through Greenheart Exchange is expected to follow all local and state health guidelines, as well as international travel requirements.
Please refer to current Centers for Disease Control guidelines for international travel to/from the USA, as well as Greenheart’s “Update on the Reopening of Travel to USA” post.
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