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Foreign Exchange Students

The United States allows foreign high school students (who are not U.S. citizens) to apply for a visa to study in the U.S.; for more information, visit the U.S. State Department's Study & Exchange web page. Before applying for a visa, the U.S. State Department requires either that the student be accepted by a school that is approved by the SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) program (SEVP-approved school issues form I-20 enabling the student to obtain an F-1 visa); or that the student be sponsored by an exchange program that issues an Exchange Visitor "J-1" visa.

PAUSD is not SEVP-approved to issue I-20 forms. PAUSD Board Policy allows acceptance of students who have a J-1 visa issued by an exchange program with which their family has entered into an agreement. PAUSD Board Policy accepts students only from a program that is listed on the California Attorney General's Registry of International Student Exchange Visitor Placement Organizations (ISEVPO).

The U.S. State Department authorizes an ISEVPO / exchange program to provide J-1 visas to high school students who meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 15 years of age, but not more than 18 years and six months of age as of the program start date, or
  • Not have finished more than 11 years of primary and secondary school, not including kindergarten; and
  • Not have previously participated in a secondary school student academic year or semester exchange program or attended school in the United States in either F-1 or J-1 status.

The U.S. State Department requires an ISEVPO / exchange program to meet these requirements:

  • Qualify host families (verify adequacy of physical home environment, community environment, family's good reputation and character, financial resources; and conduct criminal background checks)
  • Exchange students are not permitted to reside with relatives.

Exchange students interested in attending PAUSD through a J-1 visa, or PAUSD residents wishing to host an exchange student, should contact an ISEVPO listed on the California Attorney General's Registry. Once the ISEVPO has matched an exchange student with a host family whose home is within PAUSD boundaries, the ISEVPO contacts PAUSD Registration Services in the spring to gain approval for the student to attend PAUSD in the upcoming school year starting in the fall; PAUSD limits enrollment to no more than 5 students at each high school (10 students total) per year.

After the ISEVPO receives approval from PAUSD Registration Services, the host family must complete the registration for the student by following all the instructions at the PAUSD Enrollment web pages. The student will be placed at the high school assigned to the host family's home address. Host family guardians and their exchange student are advised to arrange travel such that the student arrives at least a week before school starts so as ensure health requirements are completed prior to the first day of school; the required TB Risk Assessment form can only be done after the student arrives in the U.S.; and to ensure that there is time for the student to meet with the high school's Guidance Counseling department prior to register for classes.

For more information, contact PAUSD Registration Services at or (650) 329-3761.