AFS is open to all kinds of host families, 2 parent families, families with small children, families with no children, single parent families, gay and lesbian host parents, empty-nesters, single men and women. Any family that is willing to open their home to an international student is welcome to apply. Host families must provide room and board and treat the student as a family member. Students must have their own bed but can share a room. Students have their own health insurance and spending money. Students must attend school. They can not drive, hitchhike or use illegal drugs.



Host families start the process by completing a Form A . Then they complete a host family application, provide two personal references and pass a criminal background check (for all family member 18 and older). An AFS volunteer will conduct an in home interview with all family members present and evaluate the suitability of the family and home for hosting, answer questions and .


Host families participate in the selection of the student they will host. Families are asked about gender preference, country or language preferences, level of tolerance to smoking, pets in the home, dietary restrictions, religious preferences and family activities. The hosting coordinator will search for student applications meeting preferences of the host family and typically provide two or three choices. The hosting coordinator must also offer students that meet the local school district requirements or policies regarding exchange students. Several school systems in NC have strict policies that do not allow graduates, 15 year olds, students with poor English, no winter semester students and no transfers into the district mid-year.

The students selected by AFS have all completed an application and were interviewed by an AFS volunteer in their home country. The application process in many countries is very competitive. The application includes demographics, a health assessment and physical, transcript of grades, teacher reference, parent statement, a letter to the host family, photos, English language evaluation and/or SLEP test score. Applications are screened by the sending country and by AFS/USA prior to distribution to the Carolinas area team.

Once a family commits to hosting and the school accepts the student, the host family and student are matched and can begin communicating. The host family is required to attend a host family orientation prior to the arrival of the student. This is a group activity for summer arrivals. For winter arrivals it is typically done on an individual family basis.


A liaison is assigned to the student and host family to provide support during the year. The liaison is a registered AFS volunteer who has received training. The liaison is required by federal standards to contact the student and family monthly and document the contact. Liaisons are encouraged to plan activities with the student and develop a trusting relationship with the student. Liaisons can help solve common problems students and host families encounter regarding communication, cultural differences, transportation issues, internet and phone usage, communication with natural family and friends, school performance, host sibling conflict, etc.

The student will attend orientations in their home country prior to arrival. AFS Carolinas hosts a brief overnight arrival orientation in August. The host families will pick up their students from the orientation. There are 3 required orientations for the students during the year. The post arrival orientation in September, the mid-year orientation in January and the pre-return orientation in May. Host families are encouraged to participate in discussions with other families about their experiences. Host siblings over age 14 are invited to the mid-year orientation. The orientations are essential to students sharing their experiences and problem solving.