For many years, the school district has welcomed both foreign exchange students (those with a J-1 student visa) and foreign students (those with an F-1 student visa). Not only has the district been able to provide great education and experiences for these students; in turn, the students have enriched their fellow students and their teachers through sharing of the countries and cultures from which they have come.
Foreign Exchange Students (J-1Visa)
There are a number of agencies that arrange for foreign exchange students. They do so by first identifying students who are interested in studying abroad and by locating families that wish to host an exchange student. The school district is not involved in the selection of host families. Once the agency has matched a student with a host family, the agency contacts the Director of Student Servi1. The number of exchange students per high school is to limited to six (6).
The student must attend for the full year and needs to arrive prior to the start of the school year and remain until the end of the school year.
The student needs to be proficient in reading and writing English, and to have the potential of becoming proficient in speaking English following a brief period of adjustment.
The student’s academic schedule must include enrollment in an English class and a social studies class each semester.
Along with the consent of the high school principal, foreign exchange students can be considered for graduation, provided they have completed any and all requirements of the State of Indiana and the Board of School Trustees of Elkhart Community Schools
The district seeks to have a mix of countries, cultures, and languages represented among the collective group of foreign exchange students. Further, the district attempts to utilize a variety of foreign exchange agencies. Any agency utilized needs to have current certification by the U.S. Department of State.
Foreign Students (F-1 Visa)
In order for a public or private school to enroll foreign students, the school must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), an arm of the Student and Visitor Exchange Service (SEVIS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Elkhart High School East and Elkhart High School West are among the very few public or private schools in the area and in the state that have received this approval.
It has been the history of Elkhart Community Schools that requests for acceptance of F-1 Visa foreign students almost always come from a student’s relatives who reside within the school district. Requests need to be directed to the Director of Student Services. Based on information provided by the requesting party, the director issues and signs a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – For Academic and Language Students (form I-20). This form is provided to the requesting party to send to the student seeking enrollment. The student needs to present the form to the U.S. Consulate of jurisdiction. A student who receives an F-1 Visa must report personally to the Director of Student Services upon arrival in the community. Similarly, students with an existing F-1 Visa who are seeking to transfer to EHS East or EHS West must report directly to the Director of Student Services.
Federal regulations require that there can be no waiver of tuition for F-1 Visa foreign students and further require that before an I-20 form can be issued, the full amount of tuition must be paid to the school district (the district refunds this if the student is denied the visa or cancels plans to enroll). A further regulation of the federal government is that a student with an F-1 Visa is limited to one year of attendance in high school.
Please note: students who are in grades lower than ninth grade or not eligible for either a Foreign Exchange Student Visa (J-1) or a Foreign Student Visa (F-1.)