Many public high schools throughout the USA have welcomed international students on the J-1 High School Exchange Program sponsored by the US Department of State for the purpose of introducing students to American culture and allowing them to share their culture with the schools and host families they spend the year with.
Over the past several years, a growing number of public high schools have started welcoming international students of the F-1 student visa program. There are some similarities between attending a public high school on the J-1 and F-1 visas, but there are also many differences. Depending on the student's purpose and goals, one program may be more suitable than the other.
Here are the main similiarities:
1. Participation is limited to one school year
2. Students can join school clubs and sports
3. Students live with local homestay families
Here are the main differences:
1. Students on the J-1 program must return to their home country at the end of the school year and are usually excluded from returning to the USA on any kind of student visa for at least 2 years. Conversely, students with F-1 visas may continue their education for additional years at a private high school or begin their university education without having to change their visa status or return to their country.
2. Students on the J-1 program can only apply through a specially-licensed U.S. organization that can only place a limited number of students each year. Because of the limited number of students that can apply, getting accepted to this program is a very competitive process that must be started almost one year in advance.
3. Fees for the J-1 program are low compared to the F-1 program. The reason for this is that the J-1 program is sponsored by the US government - students do not pay for school tuition fees and they live with volunteer homestay families. The main costs are airfare and placement and monitoring fees that students will pay to the J-1 placement organization. F-1 programs are not sponsored by the US government so students must pay school tuition and room and boarding fees with their own family funds.
4. Students on the J-1 program usually do not have a choice on which location or school they will attend. Students on the F-1 program, however, can choose which state, city and school they would like to attend depending on their qualifications and space availability.
5. The J-1 program application process is long and complicated and the rules are very strict. F-1 visa programs, on the other hand, require a much simpler application and fewer supporting documents. This allows students to begin the application process earlier, and get accepted to the school of their choice much sooner.
6. Students on the F-1 visa program may be able to graduate and receive a diploma from the high school they attend (if they are accepted to Grade 12 and have enough credits to graduate within one school year). Students on the J-1 visa cannot graduate or receive a high school diploma, regardless of the number of credits they have earned.
7. Students with an F-1 visa may continue their education for additional years to complete their high school and university education.
For details about the visa regulations for F-1 students who wish to spend a year in an American public high school, click on this link from the U.S. Department of State website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1269.html
American Education Partners (AEP) helps students applying for the F-1 visa to select and get accepted to public high schools throughout the USA. Other AEP services include airport pick-up, housing placement and student service support. For advice and assistance in applying to a public high school for the F-1 visa program for Fall 2011, contact AEP's School Placement Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org