The Amity Exchange Teacher Program offers qualified teachers opportunities to serve as temporary, full-time, paid faculty members at primary and secondary schools in the United States. The program follows U.S. Department of State guidelines mandatory for Exchange Visitor Programs. Under J-1 visa regulations, international teachers can be assigned for a maximum of three years. Participants are required to return home at the end of their exchange program and share their experience.
The Amity Exchange Teacher Program has several components, including teaching at an eligible school, sharing information on education, and fostering international friendship and cultural understanding through interaction with local communities.
Our international teachers currently educate American students in a variety of fields. Often positions are in dual language programs, foreign language immersion schools, or elementary schools where qualified exchange teachers teach all subjects in their native language. Participants gain deeper knowledge of American teaching methodology and can sharpen their English skills. The cultural aspect of the program requires teachers to complete a cultural activity component each year of program participation. For example, they can give an overview of the history, traditions, music, dance, art, or educational system of their home country.
International teachers interested in the Amity Exchange Teacher Program must undergo a careful selection process. They have to meet J-1 visa and program requirements. In addition to professional eligibility, potential candidates need to inform themselves about program cost before applying.
*The 2016-2017 Admissions period is now closed. We will begin accepting applications again in January 2017.
Exchange Teacher Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for the Exchange Teacher Program, teachers must meet all of the following requirements:
- Hold, at the minimum, a degree equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor’s degree in either education or the academic subject field intended to teach
- Be employed as a teacher at a primary or secondary school in his or her home country at the time of application
- Meet the qualifications to teach at primary or secondary levels, in schools in his or her home country
- Have at least three years of documented full-time teaching experience as the lead teacher
- Satisfy the teaching eligibility standards of the U.S. state in which they will teach, to include any required criminal background or other checks
- Have a sufficient level of written and verbal English needed to instruct in U.S. classrooms and to function on a day-to-day basis
- Is of good reputation and character
- Agrees to come to the United States temporarily as a full-time teacher of record in an accredited primary or secondary school
- Is willing to facilitate cross-cultural activities with assigned American host school and community; and internationally with home school abroad.
Host School and Teaching Position Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for sponsorship with Amity, the school and teaching position must meet the following requirements:
- The school must be an accredited primary or secondary school (K-12).
- Teaching position must be at the primary or secondary level. This includes Kindergarten teaching positions (students ages 5 years and older).
- Positions teaching in pre-kindergarten language immersion programs offered as regular course of study by an accredited primary school are also accepted.
- Teaching position must be full-time, and paid. The teacher must be compensated the same salary rate as a U.S. teacher in their position with the same background and experience.
- Teacher must teach an academic subject or teach in their specialization (for example special education).
- Teacher must follow an established curriculum.
The following positions do not qualify for Amity visa sponsorship:
- Positions teaching university level classes
- Positions as teaching assistants or interns
- On-call substitute or administrative positions
To qualify as an Amity Exchange Teacher, candidates must meet all of the following requirements:
- Hold a degree equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor’s degree in either education or the subject matter intended to teach
- Qualify for teaching in primary or secondary schools in their home country
- Have three years of documented post degree full-time teaching experience
- Are employed as teachers at the time of application
- Have a high level of written & verbal English
- Meet teaching eligibility requirements of the U.S. state in which they will teach
- Are of good reputation and character
How do I apply?
- Complete the online Exchange Teacher Program application and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If qualified, Amity will request additional materials to begin the application process
Where in the U.S. will I be placed? What type of school will it be?
Exchange Teachers are placed throughout the U.S. in rural, suburban or urban areas. Participating schools include accredited public, private and charter schools, as well as religious and foreign language immersion schools. Exchange Teachers can only work with primary or secondary level students (K – 12th grade). College or university positions are not permitted for Exchange Teachers sponsored on a J-1 visa, category Teacher.
Amity does not guarantee placements in specific cities.
How does the teaching licensure/certification system work in the U.S.?
U.S. schools often have a mandatory system of licensure or certification to make sure their teachers are fully qualified. An official equivalency evaluation report is required by most public schools and districts. Exchange Teachers will have to comply with the teacher certification process in the state they are placed. Teachers may be asked to take a basic skills test where math aptitude, reading comprehension, and analytic ability will be tested. They also may have to take additional classes in teaching methodology, psychology, basic skills or a variety of other subjects.
What will my responsibilities be in a U.S. school?
• Teach as a full-time, paid faculty member at a primary or secondary school.
• Share language, culture and knowledge with students, colleagues and community.
• Fulfill all state licensure/certification requirements including classes, tests and/or additional assessment measures.
• Participate in extracurricular student activities (sports, student clubs, newspaper, festivals).
• Assist students with additional academic needs (tutoring, discussion groups).
How will I find housing? Who will pay for it?
Host schools are encouraged to arrange initial housing for the Exchange Teachers with a host family for the first few weeks after arrival. Often faculty of the host school offer room and board in exchange for a small stipend until other housing arrangements are made. The Exchange Teacher is responsible for finding and paying for his/her own housing.
What are my financial responsibilities?
- $150 non-refundable application fee – payable after your eligibility has been established by Amity.
- $200 J2 application fee (per family member)
- Travel expenses to and from the United States
- SEVIS Fee currently $180 – Participants must enter their information into SEVIS database before applying for visa
- Visa application fee $150
- Health Insurance and evacuation/repatriation costs – currently $85 per month for the teacher through an Amity endorsed insurance policy. Dependent’s insurance premium is slightly higher
- Personal expense money for the initial costs upon arriving to the U.S., prior to receiving your first paycheck
- Certification or licensure costs at U.S. school
- The annual Amity Administrative Fee, due after arrival. Some applicants are required to pay the Amity Administrative fee; others share the fee with the Host School
What should I know about U.S. Schools?
U.S. schools are generally divided into the following age groups:
- Elementary – 5-11 years of age – Kindergarten is part of mandatory education in most U.S. states
- Middle/Jr. High – 12-14 years of age
- Senior High – 15-18 years of age
In the United States, students and teachers tend to have less formal relationships and more relaxed standards of behavior and discipline. Students can be extremely vocal and outspoken. There is a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities and sports. Standards of behavior and discipline may be more relaxed. U.S. schools are geared to prepare students for participation in American society.
How long will I be able to work at a U.S. school as an Exchange Teacher?
Assignments vary in length from one to three years at a U.S. school. Generally, schools issue one year renewable contracts and annually assess a teacher’s professional performance. Assignments are limited to three years per J-1 visa regulations. The end of the school year concludes the third year.
Can my spouse and children come with me to the U.S.?
Amity may sponsor the Exchange Teacher’s immediate family (spouse and dependent children under 21) for the duration of the assignment. The Exchange Teacher must be financially able to support his/her family and will be responsible for their living expenses, including visa required sickness/accident insurance.
I am an English teacher in my home country. What are my chances in the U.S.?
English is the official language of the United States. Non-native English speakers may not be considered for positions as English teachers.
How long can I stay after my assignment?
Participants may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the Program Begin Date stated on the Form DS-2019 to settle into their new living situation, take care of necessary formalities (i.e. apply for the Social Security number, get finger-printed, find suitable housing, etc.). They are not permitted to work during this time.Following the completion of their program, the Program End Date stated on the Form DS-2019, a 30-day travel period commonly referred to as the “Grace Period” is permissible. The “Grace Period” does not apply if the teacher withdraws from the program or the program is terminated prior to the official program end date for serious reasons. The teacher and dependents have to leave the U.S. immediately.
During this 30-day grace period, participants are no longer in J-visa status, and are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. The USCIS grants this period to allow participants to settle their affairs and to prepare to return to their home countries. Program participants may no longer continue and/or complete exchange activities, nor may they work. Although participants may travel in the United States, it is recommended that they do not travel beyond the borders of the United States as they may not be permitted re-entry without another visa.
*Disclaimer: Changes to this information will go into effect on February 29, 2016 to reflect the updated Department of State Visa Regulations.
*The 2016-2017 Admissions period is now closed. We will begin accepting applications for 2017/2018 school year in January 2017.