Becoming a Host

Can anyone host an international student?

We seek families who can provide a safe and stable home environment. You do not need to be wealthy or live in a large home to host. Average families provide the “everyday American experiences,” which, to these students, are priceless.

Can single people host an international student?

Yes! Host family dynamics are diverse and varied, and you are welcome to apply regardless of your marital status. During this process, we will ask single person hosts for the names and relations of other adults who will also have an impact in the student’s life during their stay. It is also helpful if you can provide us examples of how the student will be able to interact and develop relationships with other teenagers while in your home.

We have small children in our home. Can we still host?

Yes. Many of our students have younger siblings at home and enjoy young children. Please make sure that your local representative is aware of your concern so they can help you choose a student that will best fit with your family.

What type of student participates in this program?

Just like host families, students have a wide range of interests, personalities and life goals. As a general rule, our students are young people who want to learn about the United States, American culture, and develop English language skills. Some students have international collegiate goals, and others are purely seeking the cultural experience. Students are screened and chosen based on their maturity, academic achievement, adaptability, and English capabilities. Our goal is to help your student to be a quality match for your family!

How long do the students stay?

NOD has a variety of programs, which vary in duration. Short term programs last from two to eight weeks, but academic programs align with school calendars: five months, ten months, or a calendar year. Students begin these programs at various times of the year and may attend a public or private school. However, you will be the one to choose which program type, arrival time, program length, and student will best fit with your family.

What are host families expected to provide?

Your family will provide room, board, and most importantly, a receptive and supportive family environment. Students may share a room with a family member of the same gender and similar age, but they must have their own bed. We expect students to participate in the family, including having chores and other family responsibilities. Each student is responsible for his/her own spending money, which might include entertainment, clothing and souvenir expenses.

What type of home do I have to have?

Students stay in various types and sizes of homes. We do require that your home is safe, well maintained, and clean, with adequate room to accommodate the student. When considering your space, realize that the student will need a quiet place to study, a bed of their own, and a place to keep their belongings.

How will we communicate? Do students speak English?

All students who participate are required to meet a standard of English competency. Most have studied English for several years and are hoping to achieve a greater level of fluency. There may be some slang terms and regional dialect that you will need to help them with. Please keep in mind that during the initial adjustment, students may struggle with quick-thinking and responding in English. This should get better once the anxiety and excitement associated with their arrival begins to lessen and they are more comfortable in their new surroundings.

Can we host two students?

Yes. Many families host two students at a time. Each student must have their own bed. In some cases, two international students of the same gender may be allowed to share a room with each other. In order to facilitate English fluency, we require that the students living in the same home speak different native languages.

How do we select the right student for our family?

After your family has been approved to host, your local representative will either match you with a student or help you select a student from an available pool. Depending on which program you participate in and the timing of your application, the number of students you have to choose from will vary. Host families who apply in the late winter and early spring tend to choose from a more diverse pool of students.

How does the student get money for their expenses?

Students typically bring money or a credit or debit card with them. The natural parents may also occasionally send international money orders to students during their stay. To avoid uncomfortable situations, we discourage host families from opening joint accounts with, and/or lending money to their international students. We do encourage you, however, to assist your student in setting up an individual bank account if they choose to do so.

Can the student have a job?

No. Our students are in the country on an educational or cultural visa and therefore not allowed to work. However, babysitting, mowing lawns, and doing odd chores to earn extra money are allowed occasionally.

How will students call internationally?

We encourage students to bring a phone card so they do not incur long distance bills on the host family phone. Some students may also choose to purchase a “pay-as-you-go” cell phone. We strongly discourage host families from adding a cell-phone line to their family plans or co-signing for a cell-phone contract with their student.

How is the program funded?

International students and their families pay a program fee and travel costs to participate. Some students are provided scholarship funds to assist in this expense. Nacel Open Door is a non-profit organization committed to U.S. cultural diplomacy and international education.

Are the students insured?

Yes. Students are covered by health and accident insurance. They are given insurance information during their orientation, and we have an insurance coordinator available to students and host families should there be questions about coverage or claims.

Do I need to worry about student smoking or drugs?

While on our program students are not allowed to smoke, even if they are of legal age to do so. Drugs and alcohol consumption are strictly prohibited. We expect our students to be models of good behavior and all students sign a code of conduct before participation in the program.

What do we do if we have a problem?

Nacel Open Door is committed to our host families and students at all times. Each family has a local representative that they can contact with questions or concerns at any time. Additionally, we have an advisor on call 24/7 to assist families and students with any issues or questions that may arise.

How do you assure a quality experience?

Our goal is that all families and students have a quality experience.

  • Student screening. Nacel Open Door and our partners abroad carefully screen, and strive to accept only students that will be positive role models and successful international students.
  • Local representative. The local representative is screened and trained to: support a quality hosting experience and establish and manage good student-family matches. All host families are provided with an orientation to assure that you are well prepared for the experience, and your local representative will offer ongoing support and advice during the course of the program for you and the student.
  • Regional and national support. Nacel Open Door has national office and regional coordinators who also work to ensure quality hosting experiences. If you ever feel you are not getting the support you need locally, we encourage you to contact the national office at 1-800-622- 3553. We comply with the standards set forth by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) and the U.S. Department of State for educational and cultural exchange. As such, we have high standards for program satisfaction.
Our family attends worship services. Will our student go with us?

Not necessarily. As part of the application process, students are asked what religion they participate in, if any, and if they are willing to participate in this or other religious services during their stay. If it is important to your family that your student attends services with you, please work with your local representative to choose a student who is open to this.

Attempting to convert a student to your religion during their stay is against the U.S. Department of State regulations and NOD policy. Many students, however, have participated in religious activities with their hosts and have enjoyed the opportunity to be involved without pressure to convert. Please allow your student to make this personal choice.

Can my student drive?

No. Because of the liability involved, Nacel Open Door prohibits students from driving any motorized vehicle while on program. This policy also includes driver education courses.

Can the student travel with us?

Yes. Students are able to travel with your family under NOD guidelines. Travel must be authorized, and the student’s location must be communicated to the national office. Because of visa requirements, travel outside of the U.S. can be more difficult. Thus, advance permission from the national office is required.

Do international students have the opportunity to get together while on the program?

Local representatives will often times arrange parties and get-togethers for international students, and sometimes their host family members. For further information on this, please talk with your local representative.

How do we get started?

To begin the process, please fill out the online Host Family Application. Once your application is submitted, a representative will contact you to schedule an appointment.

Get Involved

Read about becoming a
Host or Local Representative.

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  • Nacel Open Door
    101 5th Street E.
    Suite 1900
    St Paul, MN 55101
    Toll Free: 800-NACELLE (800-622-3553)
    Local: pref (651) 686-0080
    Fax: fax 651-686-9601