How To Apply for a High School in the U.S.


International students can apply for U.S. public high school admissions with either a J-1 High School Exchange Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State or an F-1 Student Visa Program. Depending on the student’s needs and goals, he/she will need either a J-1 or F-1 Visa. In some cases, the school will ask for academic credential evaluations of your records. You may begin your evaluation by clicking here. The following highlight some main differences between the two visas.

  • On the J-1, students must return to their home country at the end of the school year and are excluded from returning to the U.S. on a student visa for a minimum of two years. Students can only apply through a licensed U.S. organization that places a limited number of students each year. Therefore, placement is very competitive. However, students do not need to pay for school tuition and live with volunteer homestay families since the program is sponsored by the U.S. government. Students do not have a choice on which school they will attend.
  • On the F-1, students can continue their education after a year at a private high school or begin university without changing their visa status or returning to their country. Students must pay school tuition as well as room and boarding fees since the program is not sponsored by the U.S. government. Students have a choice on which school, state and city they would like to attend depending on qualifications and availability. Students may also obtain a high school diploma while students on J-1 cannot graduate or receive a diploma even if they have fulfilled all credit requirements.

Some additional tips:

  • SAT scores are used to evaluate your academic credentials.
  • TOEFL or IELTS exams are used to examine your English-speaking abilities.
  • Describe any extracurricular activities that you’ve done on your application.
  • Check the university to make sure it offers financial aid to international students if you need aid.
  • Depending on the program of study, it may be a good idea to complete a program in your home country that increases your chances for U.S. university admissions.