3142 Procedure – International Student Exchange


These procedures set forth minimum requirements for the acceptance of international exchange students as defined below. The district shall not be required to accept any such students and retains the right, in its sole discretion, to deny admission to any such student.


For purposes of this procedure an international exchange student is defined as a student who has been issued a J-1 Visa in order to enroll in a school in the district. An international exchange organization is an organization registered with the Secretary of State’s office in Washington State.

Number of International Exchange Students

The district determines the number of international exchange students for placement in each school based on the capacity of the school to integrate the international student in a way that is beneficial for all. The district strives to find an acceptable number that recognizes the needs of schools and the opportunities provided by exchange programs.

Selection of International Exchange Organizations

A. The district will only accept students from international exchange organizations registered with the Office of the Secretary of State of Washington State. A list of such organizations is available on the website of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction at www.k12.wa.us; and

B. The district reserves the right to work with international exchange organizations that have proven their commitment to high standards and responsiveness to student and district needs.

Timing of Placement Process

A. An international exchange organization wishing to enroll an international exchange student in a school in the district will submit to the deputy superintendent a request which provides a complete program description, including the name, address and telephone number of the local representative. Bellingham Public Schools must receive the application by May 1 for students planning to begin school during first semester the following fall or by October 1 for students planning to begin school for second semester.

B. The deputy superintendent, in consultation with the appropriate principal, will review the application. The district will provide notification of approval or denial in writing to the program representative in a timely manner, but no later than June 1 for the first semester and November 1 for the second semester.

C. The district may at its discretion choose to accommodate a late applicant because federal J- 1 Visa regulations permit the placement of exchange students up to August 31 of each year.

Required Placement Information

Requests to accept exchange students must include the following student placement information and information about the sponsoring organization:

A. Exchange agency application.

B. Agency statement that they have been designated by the United States Department of State as an exchange visitor program sponsor.

C. Agency coordinator contact information.

D. Student name, ID number, nationality, grade level and birth date.

E. Host family name, address and contact information.

F. Legal parent name, address and phone number.

G. High school name and address.

H. Evidence that the exchange student has proven English proficiency.

I. The student must have sufficient command of the English language to enable him or her to function well in an English-speaking academic and community environment.

J. An English test of the school district’s own design or choosing may be administered and will supersede all other tests.

K. Provide an official transcript or equivalent document from all academic institutions from grade 7 to present with an accompanying English translation indicating courses studied and grade received.

L. Immunization record indicating compliance with Washington state requirements.

M. Verification of health and accident insurance coverage that meets or exceeds United States Department of State guidelines.

N. A written personal statement by the student in English covering the following:

a. Basic biographical facts;

b. Why the student wants to attend school in the district;

c. What the student hopes to learn and/or accomplish by the experience; and

d. What the student will contribute to the school community.

Age Limitations

Exchange students must be at least 15 but less than 19 years of age as of the date of enrollment.


Students will only be admitted if it is determined by the Deputy Superintendent in consultation with the building principal that:

  • There is sufficient space available;
  • The student’s attendance at school will not adversely impact the instructional program of the district; and
  • There is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the student demonstrates maturity, good character and an ability to derive maximum benefit from the program experience.

Exchange students will only be accepted for one academic year, and the district reserves its right to revoke acceptance at any time if the placement information is found to be false or misleading.

Course Assignments

A. Exchange students will be enrolled as full-time students.

B. Exchange students will be enrolled in U.S. History and English.

C. Exchange students will not be enrolled in a traffic education course.

D. Exchange students will not be enrolled in the Running Start program.

E. Teachers will not be expected to devote additional instructional time to exchange students.

Academic Considerations

A. Exchange students will be graded and granted credit for successful completion of course work.

B. Exchange students who successfully complete the assigned course work may be awarded a certificate of completion.

C. Exchange students will not be awarded diplomas.

D. Exchange students, like all students, may not participate in the commencement ceremonies unless they fulfill all the graduation requirements as put forth by the Bellingham School District.

Financial Responsibility

A. The district will provide no financial assistance or benefits to exchange students.

B. Exchange students will be responsible for school fees and expenses.

Conduct Standards

A. Exchange students will be subject to the same policies, rules of conduct and attendance requirements as regular students, except as modified by these procedures, the student’s enrollment agreement or law.

B. Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) rules and regulations will govern co-curricular eligibility of exchange students.


A. The exchange student must present themselves for registration prior to the first day of classes for the current semester.

B. At or before the time of registration the exchange student, adult representative of the host family and representative of the sponsoring organization must sign an enrollment agreement certifying compliance with the conditions as stated in these procedures.

Sponsoring Organization Responsibilities

The sponsoring organization’s responsibilities include but are not limited to:

A. Selecting exchange students who meet all district criteria including English language proficiency and who demonstrate maturity, good character and the ability to derive maximum benefit from the program experience;

B. Verifying that adequate financial resources are available to each student to cover all financial responsibilities associated with the program and the student’s attendance at the district’s schools;

C. Selecting qualified and appropriate host families and providing ongoing supervision of students. The district assumes no responsibility for the experience or supervision of exchange students outside of the formal school program;

D. Maintaining continuous contact with the exchange student’s schools and assisting in the event that problems may affect a student’s participation in the school program; and

E. Complying with all deadlines contained in these procedures, providing all required placement information in a timely fashion and updating all required placement information immediately in the event inaccuracies are discovered or changes occur.

Adopted/Previous Revisions: 05/22/88;10/12/10; 03/14/13; 01/23/15
Updated: 07/17/18