Exchange Student Program

Thousands of students travel to the States each year to participate in the exchange student program. Throughout this year, students will be living like local Americans, experiencing their unique culture, and receiving their education. Apart from broadening their knowledge and horizons, students can also learn to be independent and develop excellent problem-solving skills.

The exchange student program is supported by the United States Information Agency (USIA), the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), and non-profit educational institutions in the United States. There are two types of exchange programs: the public exchange student program (J-1 visa) and a private exchange student program (F-1 visa).

Different from applying directly to private high schools, exchange students cannot choose their exchange locations, and they are usually assigned to suburban towns. By enrolling in a local high school where most of the students are local Americans, our exchange students will also serve as “Hong Kong ambassadors”, bringing the Hong Kong culture to areas in the United States where there are not as many, or not even one, Chinese. During that year, exchange students will be staying in a local host family, becoming a part of them and experiencing the life of a “real American”. Rest assured, all host families must have gotten through rigorous background checks before they have the program’s permission to host an exchange student.

The exchange student program is not limited to academically high-achieving students. Secondary school students who love the American culture, enjoy the exposure to new experiences, and those who are daring to accept different challenges in life are all welcome to apply.

Public Exchange Student Program vs Private Exchange Student Program

Depending on the student’s choice in the public or private exchange student program, they will be enrolled in Grade 9 to 12 in a public or private high school according to their academic level in Hong Kong.

All public high schools listed under the public exchange student program only allow students to study for no more than a year, and students must leave the school after completing the one-year program. On the contrary, although private high schools listed under the private exchange student program only allow students to study as exchange students for a year, if students want to stay in the school after the program, they can remain in the same school as a regular international student.

Public high schools will not accept more than one exchange student holding the same nationality (as determined by students’ passports). Besides only having a limited number of spots available each year, this also means that students will only be able to use English to communicate with their peers, forcing them to improve their English skills.

Program duration

Students can choose from:

  • One academic year (10 months): August/September to June; or
  • One semester (5 months): January to June


Exchange students will be assigned to suburban areas with fewer Chinese communities, states that have hosted students in the past such as:

  • Maine (ME)
  • Kansas (KS)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Wisconsin (WI)
  • Texas (TX)
  • Oregon (OR)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • Indiana (IN)
  • Georgia (GA)
  • Ohio (OH)
  • Utah (UT)
  • Missouri (MO)



15 – 18.5 years old, currently studying in F.3 – F.5


  • Last 3 years’ school reports
  • Personal statement
  • Parent’s statement
  • Teacher’s recommendation
  • English Language Test for International Students (ELTiS)
  • Interview (if needed)

Your plan for the next year…

Since the exchange student program only lasts for one year, upon completion of the program, if students intend to continue studying in the States, Litz USA will assist the students in planning and following up with their future study path.

Depending on grades and age, students can choose:

  • to return to Hong Kong (please communicate with your high school in Hong Kong ahead of time regarding the possibility of returning)
  • private exchange program (for students who previously participated in the public exchange program)
  • private high school
  • community colleges and colleges with “High School Completion Program”
  • 4-year college (/university)