Interscholastic Division Foreign Exchange/Foreign Students

Foreign Exchange and Foreign Students

Foreign Exchange Students do not pay tuition, must have a J-1 visa limited to one academic year, and should be placed by a Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) listed foreign exchange program. CSIET annually develops an advisory list of programs which have met a rigorous evaluation process. The CSIET Advisory List handbook is sent to every MPA member high school each summer through the coordinated efforts of the MPA, CSIET, NFHS, and NASSP. An ongoing updated list can be found at Please note that membership in CSIET is not the same as a program achieving the advisory list. Any program can be a member—only those meeting the standards are part of the advisory list. Any student not placed by a CSIET listed program should be viewed under higher scrutiny in order to determine that all aspects of eligibility as well as the student’s safety and well-being are met. All foreign exchange students must meet all MPA and local eligibility rules.

Foreign students are a separate category from foreign exchange students. They pay tuition, must have an F-1 visa and must also meet all aspects of MPA and local eligibility rules. Additional areas of review should include who is paying the tuition, who is the student living with, under what circumstances, and if any of these issues involve athletic purposes. F-1 visas are limited to a maximum of one year at public schools. By federal law, no similar time restriction applies to private schools.

Both foreign exchange students and foreign students must meet all eligibility requirements. Schools should pay particular attention to age requirements (under 20), the eight semester rule, the four seasons of competition rule, and the undergraduate rule which is often the most difficult to ascertain. Schools must ensure that a student has not graduated from the home country’s equivalent of high school. Key questions to ask include: How long have you attended your previous school? (can impact eight semesters of competition rule); If you still lived in your home country, would you be attending that school or would you have moved on to a higher level of schooling?

Finally, the transfer waiver request form is required for all foreign exchange students as well as all foreign students. (Note: Appendix N may be helpful in establishing the eligibility of all students and Appendix X refers specifically to foreign students).

All initial contact by the student or foreign exchange program must be through the principal. Any variance must be highly scrutinized to ensure that high school athletics was not part of the placement process.

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