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5 Tips for Families Hosting an International Student with a Green Card or Visa

You’ve decided to host a foreign exchange student in your home for the summer. Your family shows excitement and anticipation, but you’re nervous—you’ve never done this before. How can you make a welcoming impression? How can you take on the role of parent to a teenager or young adult you don’t even know? How can you be sure his or her stay will go smoothly?

If you’re uncertain how to answer these questions, consider the following five tips for a pleasant, memorable experience with your new student.

Help Your Student Reach His or Her Goals

The primary reason young students travel to America is to refine their English and experience the unique culture. Whether he or she comes from Europe, South America, Asia, or elsewhere, understand your exchange student’s aspirations and be there to help out.

Provide engaging learning experiences for him or her through English exercises like answering the phone or reading a novel. Introduce your student to your children and other people around the same age and encourage friendships.

Go to an Immigration Lawyer if You Have Concerns

When foreign exchange students stay with host families, they have with them either a green card or visa for a legal—but temporary—stay. If any legal problems arise, or if you have any questions about your student’s status, contact an immigration lawyer like Joshua Goldstein. You’ll receive one-on-one assistance from someone who knows how to respond to an expired green card or visa.

Be Prepared Financially

An international student is like a temporary son or daughter. Just as you take care of your own children, you’ll need to provide for your student too. Make sure you have enough money to spend on food, groceries, and other household supplies for your whole family, including your exchange student. You’ll also want enough to afford fun family outings or vacations.

Accept and Respect Cultural Differences

Depending on where your student is from, you may need to acclimate to his or her cultural identity and understanding, just as he or she must adapt to yours. Beyond showing respect, open your mind and have a sincere interest in your student’s life, family, country of origin, and hobbies. You might forge a lasting relationship during his or her stay.

Stay Connected With Your Student’s Family

While you hope your international student finds enrichment and learns valuable life experience during the stay, remember to encourage him or her to keep in touch with family abroad. Consider how your student’s parents might feel without their son or daughter around for an extended period of time.

Use Facebook to chat or send messages, or try Skype for live video calls. Encourage your student to send news updates and photos to his or her family through social media.

Hosting an international exchange student might seem daunting, but when you remember to implement these tips, you’ll gain more confidence and excitement in playing an important role in his or her life.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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