Important information for students going to USA under exchange programme

By nCa The voice of Greater Central Asia

Tips for Parents:

CSFES is receiving requests from parents to recommend suitable student exchange organizations.  While CSFES is not in the position to make such referrals, we offer the following when making this very important decision:
Fingerprint Background Checks:
Ask specifically if the student exchange organization conducts fingerprint background checks.  If the answer is no, search for another company.  
In Case of an Emergency:
Check how well the student exchange organization responds to emergencies, especially of an evening, weekends and holidays. Find out the emergency telephone number in which to call.  Then call the telephone number. The response will tell you if this is a responsible organization. 
Reviewing Student Profiles:
When visiting the exchange organization's website, what controls are in place to prevent easy access to the student's profile?  Is personal information easily accessible complete with the student's photo?  Is this the method in which you would like for your son or daughter to be placed by the student exchange organization?
There is an increase in sexual predators targeting children through the Internet, therefore, this is a vital concern to CSFES.
Host Family Information:
In the event you have progressed to receiving your son or daughter's prospective Host Family information packet from the student exchange organization:  
Check to see that this family's interests are similar to your son or daughters.
If your child has allergies or asthma; is he/she being placed in a home with animals or those who smoke?
Be very concerned if prior to your son or daughter's departure, you are notified by the student exchange organization that there has been a sudden change with the Host Family selected for your child.  If you are told the Host Family is no longer the same "due to a divorce or unforeseen circumstances," etc., this is a major concern to CSFES." **
You will be told that a Welcome Family will instead await your son or daughter.  It has been our experience that this gives cause for your child to potentially be bounced around among Welcome Families many times prior to a "permanent" family being secured.  Does the organization pre-screen welcome families, including fingerprint background checks? 
As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25 (d)(3) "Ensure that no organizational representative act as both host family and area supervisor for any student participant whom that organizational representative may host."
Your son or daughter should not be placed in a home where his/her host mother or father is also the organization's supervisor, area representative or regional director.  This provides no neutrality in the event your son or daughter has concerns or an emergency.
Secure High School Placement:
Do you have a letter of acknowledgement from the high school your son or daughter will attend?
As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25(f)(4) "Under no circumstance shall a sponsor facilitate the entry into the United States of a student for whom a school placement hs not been secured."
Student Identification Card:
As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25 (g)(4) "An identification card which lists the student's name, United States home placement address and telephone number, and a telephone number which affords immediate contact with both the Department of State and sponsor in case of emergency.  Such cards may be provided in advance of home country departure or immediately upon entry into the United States."
Parents:  Make certain your son or daughter has this information; complete with a telephone number that will provide immediate contact with both the Department of State and sponsor.
** In the event your child is not provided with a Student Identification Card complete with the above-referenced information, prior to departure or arrival into the United States, please notify CSFES immediately. **
Ask who has the final say on the selection of family. If you have concerns about the family (age of host parents, etc.) and you are told that if you have to accept the family -- ask more questions.
CSFES asks that parents:
1)  ask for a copy of the child protection policy of the agency responsible for placing students.
2)  ask for a guarantee in writing that the home of the host family has been inspected and the privacy of the student in bathroom and bedroom ensured.
3)  ensure that their children are aware of what constitutes sexual harassment given that most rapes are preceded by touching the thigh, commenting on the sexual attractiveness of the student, "accidentally" touching breasts etc., which if ignored leads the perpetrator to think that it is acceptable to proceed further.
4)  ask if the agency informs the student of telephone numbers to call if abusive behavior occurs (police, rape crisis centers, etc) ? If not, do not use that agency.
5)  make certain your child can access the passport and return ticket if an unacceptable situation is encountered.
6)  ensure your child knows how to phone home from overseas.
7)  ensure they know how to contact their consulate in case they encounter problems that the agency ignores.
_____________________________________________________________ informs, "Before Sending Your Child to The United States as an Exchange Student" for your review:


CSFES monitors exchange student abuse and provides information to interested parties in an effort to significantly reduce the number of children who become victims of child/sexual abuse, neglect and extortion.   

Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students

Fisher v. International Student Exchange,  Inc.

Dedicated to keeping you informed

CSFES is a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit corporation (EIN 43-2100110) advocating the safety, protection and well being of exchange students around the world and was instrumental in the strengthening of the U.S. Department of State regulations for the protection of these young people.   

CSFES raises public awareness and provides education related to the safety of exchange students to prospective and current, exchange students natural parents and school 
administrators, with a specific focus on educating exchange organizations and government agencies to ensure the protection of exchange students around the world.  

Presently we are an all-volunteer organization advocating for the safety of foreign exchange students.

CSFES supports cultural exchange and is committed to the idea that every foreign student deserves a safe and memorable exchange experience.  We believe without reservation that while these sons and daughters are studying abroad, they should expect and fully deserve, to be treated as if they are our own. 

As an organization, CSFES strives for cooperative relationships with exchange programs, based on the explicit understanding that CSFES will always prioritize exchange student safety above all other concerns. 

Given this understanding, CSFES sees the following issues as specific cause for concern exchange students should: 

  • Never depart from their home country without a properly screened host family awaiting their arrival.

  • Be apprised of a completed High School Permission Form prior to leaving their home country.

  • Know whether they will be attending a public or private high school prior to departure.

  • Not be placed in the homes of convicted criminals.   

  • Not not be forced to live in the home of their area representative.  

  • Not be expected to live in homes lacking basic standards of cleanliness.

  • Have the telephone number of the U.S. Department of State in case of emergency.

  • Be fully apprised of their rights as visitors in this country.

  • Be sufficiently educated on all Child Protection Guidelines.

  • Not be coerced to write letters/sign agreements that they do not fully understand.

  • Never be sent home early without an accompanying review process.

  • Not be made to fear being sent back to their home country for voicing their concerns. 

If you are an exchange student with concerns about your safety, please contact CSFES 760-583-9593 or  All international visitors may also contact local law enforcement agencies in the event of an emergency by dialing 911.

Anyone who suspects suspicious behavior or maltreatment of foreign exchange students, please report it to the proper authorities or CSFES at  

CSFES monitors exchange student abuse and provides information to interested parties in an effort to significantly reduce the number of children who become victims of child/sexual abuse, neglect and extortion. 


February 25, 2019

Man who prosecutor called 'the worst this country has to offer' gets 24 years in drug death of teen exchange student


The parents of a 15-year-old Glenbard South High School foreign exchange student have filed a lawsuit against the Downers Grove man charged in her death. ... Also named in the lawsuit are his wife, Daniella Emanuele, and the Council for Educational Travel United States of America.  May 8, 2018


Lawsuits Continued:

United States of America v. Mark E. Johnson

Student Exchange Agency:  Education Foundation


State Department: Background Checks On Foreign Exchange Hosts Not ‘Feasible’

​The Associated Press

Danielle Grijalva, executive director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students, said she has found dozens of cases of sexual abuse over the years and forwarded the complaints to the State Department. Yet the agency has done little to investigate them, she said.

“The State Department is watching exchange agencies like the Catholic Church watched its (pedophile) priests,” she said.


Exchange students live American nightmare

CNN Investigation by Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston


August 12, 2005

The Washington Post

U.S. Targets Sex Abuse Of Exchange Students

By Robin Wright and Lori Aratani


Letters of Abuse from Former Exchange Students
By Danielle Grijalva - Committee Looking to Stop Abuse of Student and Looking to State Department for Assistance
To my left, I see a stack of handwritten letters from exchange students eager to come to the United States of America for their very first time anxious to experience American culture. 

Sadly, to my right, I see handwritten letters from previous exchange students who have already returned home. All have experienced some form of abuse and neglect during their stay in the USA. 

I have a letter from a retired parole officer, who, while supervising sex offenders, learned of five instances where sex offenders gained access to new child victims by becoming hosts of foreign students. One was convicted of molesting a 16 year-old Japanese girl. 

I found myself wondering how the letters to my left by students full of innocence, anticipation and hope, ended up being letters of heartache nearly impossible for me to read. This occurs to these precious kids in the very country in which I live. It will continue to happen if the US Department of State does not raise their standards and require student exchange organizations to perform mandatory background checks of host families and publish child protection policies and guidelines.

In Northern California, the student exchange organization Student of the World Invitation to Friendship and Travel (SWIFT) made headlines in June 4, 2005 Inside Bay Area Newspaper. "Exchange students in dire need of homes - Host families still have not been found for 150 teens bound for Bay Area." 

Students will be arriving in eleven short days. Per my recent conversation with SWIFT, they still need "well over one hundred homes." 

This article stresses that host families "do not need to provide a separate guest room" for the students. As a former Representative with the
Center for Cultural Interchange, (currently known as Greenheart Exchange), I came to learn of two Korean boys found sleeping on cots in their host mother's garage.

"Exchange students still need homes" appeared in the News 8 Austin Newspaper June 7, 2005. Marilyn Bretherick of International Student Exchange (ISE) is looking for homes for 71 students for this coming school year.

"I'm really surprised I'm not finding homes for them," Hagewood with Program of Academic Exchange (PAX) said. "I'll put them anywhere." 

John Hishmeh of the Council for Standards on International Educational Travel (CSIET) worries about the financial toll that mandatory background checks would make on the industry's smaller players. Yet as their tax files via the Internet show, these are multi-million dollar agencies.

My worry is that the stack of letters to my right will continue to grow. I fear the next set of headlines will be those telling the accounts of exchange students sexually abused by their hosts. I have a stack of those headlines, too. 

Parents and teachers, please do not become involved with agencies that do not properly screen host families or produce child protection guidelines. 

Danielle Grijalva is the Director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students


Foreign Exchange Students Report Abuse by Host Families

by Rick Cohen, Nonprofit Quarterly

Source:  Rock Center with Brian Williams

​ ​__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Foreign Exchange Students Not Coming to America Due to Covid-19

Child Advocacy Group Encourages Parents To Do Their Homework

More than 30,000 high school foreign exchange students who were planning to come to America this fall will instead be staying home due to Covid-19.  Director, Danielle Grijalva of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students says that may be a good thing.

"Too many parents are eager to send their son or daughter thousands of miles from home to live with complete strangers," says Grijalva. She went on to say, "Little time is spent researching the reputation of the placement agency here in America."  

Grijalva went on to explain that she firmly believes that the United States doesn't have 30,000 host families to host exchange students. Students in the past have been placed in homes where there's barely enough food to feed the host family let alone an exchange student.  The exchange student ends up buying groceries for the family.  If they complain, they will be sent back home.

As a result of America not being able to house 30,000 foreign exchange students, many of these student placement agencies will place these students just about anywhere and with anyone, even if they have a criminal background. Students end up sleeping on couches in musty garages, they are found by the dozen forced to sleep in sleeping bags in the basement of their area representative's home. Students are crammed in tiny campers and motels forced to keep silent. If they complain, they are punished by being sent back home early in shame. 

Grijalva was a former area representative with the Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI) currently known as Greenheart Exchange. It was then that she learned about the dark side of the student exchange industry. She resigned and later formed the 501(c)(3) non-profit Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students headquartered in Imperial, CA.  

Natural parents need to do their homework on the student placement agency that will sponsor their child here in America. Many of these student placement agencies are responsible for making headlines in the news for the mistreatment of former exchange students. Grijalva encourages natural parents to read the News page of the CSFES website at

See just how often these agencies have made headlines outlining abuse and mistreatment of exchange students. "These agencies are designated sponsors of the United States Department of State. State still refuses to implement FBI based criminal fingerprint background checks on host families who host students for a semester or a full academic year," Grijalva said.  This important child safety measure would drastically reduce the number of foreign exchange students that are placed in the homes of pedophiles and hosts with a criminal past. 

Grijalva encourages parents that intend for their child to study abroad to simply do their homework and ask hard hitting questions before being so quick to write that check for $15,000 in program fees for their child to study abroad. Natural parents should ask their sending agency whether the sponsor in America performs full FBI criminal fingerprint background checks on their host families. If they do not, let this be a red flag.  Do not send your teenage son or daughter abroad running the risk of their dream to study in America turning into their worst nightmare.  

Les étudiants étrangeres ne viennent pas en Amerique pour le Covid-19

Une organisation pour la défense des mineurs encourage les parents à faire leur devoir

Plus de 30 mile étudiants étrangeres du lycée qui ont planifié d'aller en Amerique cet automne, resteront plutôt à la maison pour le Covid-19. Danielle Grijalva, le Directeur du "Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students" (le "Comité pour la Securité des Etudiants Etrangeres") dit que cela pourrait être une bonne chose.

"Trop de parents sont impatients d'envoyer leur fis ou leur fille à milliers de kilometres de leur maison pour vivre avec parfaits étrangers" dit Grijalva. Elle a continué a dir, "Peu de temps est utilisé à rechercher la reputation de l'agence pour l'échange culturel ici en Amerique".

Grijalva a continué à expliquer que elle croit fermement que les Etats Unis n'ont pas 30 mille familles d'accueille pour les étudiants étrangers. Les étudians plusier fois ont éte hébergés en des maison où il n'y a pas assez nourriture pour la famille, encore moins pour un étudiant étranger. Le dernier finit pour acheter la nourriture pour la famille d'accueille. Si ils se plaignet, il sont renvoyés à leur maison.

En conséquence du fact que l'Amerique n'as pas 30 miles maisons pour les étudiants étrangers, beaucoup de ces étudiants étrangers sont placés n'import où et n'import avec qui, même s'ils ont des antécedénts criminels. Les étudiants finissent par dormir sur des canapés dans des garages moisis, ils sont forcés de dormir dans des sacs de couchage au sous-sol de la maison du leur coordinateur. Les étudiants sont entassés dans des minuscules campeurs et motels, obligés de garder le silence. S'ils se plaignent, ils sont punis et sont renvoyés à leur maison avec l’humiliation.

Grijalva a étée une coordinatrice du "Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI)", actuellement connu sous le nom de "Greenheart Exchange". C'est alors qu'elle a découvert le côté obscur des affairs avec les échanges d'étudiants. Elle a donc démissionné et a ensuite formé le organisme à but non lucratif "Commitee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students", dont le siège est à Imperial, en Californie.

Les parents naturels doivent faire leur devoir sur l'agence d'échange qui parrainera leur enfant ici en Amérique. Bon nombre de ces agences sont chargées d'etre sur les journaux pour les mauvais traitements infligés aux étudiants en échange. Grijalva encourage les parents naturels à lire la page "News" du site Web du CSFES à:

Voyez à quelle fréquence ces agences sont sur des journaux pour les traitements infligés aux étudiants d’échange. "Ces agences sont des sponsors désignés du Département d'État américain. L'État refuse toujours de mettre en œuvre des vérifications des antécédents criminels basés sur le empreinte digitales (le soi-disant "FBI fingerprint criminal background check") sur les familles qui accueillent des étudiants pour un semestre ou une année d'école complète", a déclaré Grijalva. Cette importante mesure de sécurité pour les enfants réduirait considérablement le nombre d'étudiants étrangers qui sont placés chez des pédophiles et chez des parents avec un passé criminel.

Grijalva encourage les parents qui ont l'intention d'envoyer leur enfant à étudier à l'étranger de simplement faire leur devoir et de poser des questions percutantes et dures avant d'être rapides à rédiger ce chèque de 15 mile euros pour les frais du programme. Les parents naturels devraient demander à leur agence si le parrain en Amérique effectue des vérifications complètes des antécédents criminels avec les empreintes digitales sur leurs familles d'accueil. Si ce n'est pas le cas, donc c'est un avertissement. N'envoyez pas votre fils ou votre fille adolescente à l'étranger au risque que leur rêve d'étudier en Amérique se transforme en leur pire cauchemar.

Gli studenti di scambio non partono per l’America per via del Covid-19

Un gruppo a tutela dei minori invita i genitori a fare il loro lavoro

Più di trentamila studenti delle scuole superiori che avevano organizzato di partire per l’America quest’autunno, staranno invece a casa per via del Covid-19. Danielle Grijalva, il Direttore del "Committee for Safety for Foreign Exchange Students" ("Il Comitato per la Sicurezza degli Studenti Stranieri") afferma che tutto ciò potrebbe essere una buona cosa.

"Troppi genitori sono desiderosi di mandare il loro figlio o la loro figlia a migliaia di chilometri di distanza da casa, a vivere con perfetti sconosciuti" afferma Grijalva. E continua poi a dire, "Davvero poco tempo viene speso nel ricercare la reputazione delle agenzie di scambio qui in America".

Grijalva ha spiegato che lei crede fermamente che gli Stati Uniti non abbiano trenta mila famiglie ospitanti per gli studenti stranieri che vogliono fare uno scambio culturale. Questi ultimi in passato sono stati ospitati in case in cui c'era a malapena abbastanza cibo per sfamare la famiglia ospitante, figuriamoci uno studente straniero. È quindi regola che alla fine lo studente di scambio sia costretto a comprare da mangiare per la famiglia che lo ospita. E se ci si lamenta, si viene rispediti a casa.

Poiché l'America non è in grado di ospitare trenta mila studenti stranieri, molte di queste agenzie di scambio inseriscono gli studenti praticamente dove capita e con chi capita, addirittura anche con soggetti che hanno una fedina penale sporca.

Molti studenti sono finiti a dormire su divani in garage ammuffiti, oppure ci sono stati casi di studenti ammucchiati in decine e costretti a dormire in sacchi a pelo nel seminterrato della casa del loro coordinatore. Alcuni studenti sono stati addirittura stipati in minuscoli camper o in dei motel, costretti a rimanere nel silenzio. E anche in questo caso, se ci si lamenta, si è puniti con il rimpatrio, spesso nell’imbarazzo più totale per lo studente.

Grijalva è stata in passato una coordinatrice per il "Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI)", attualmente conosciuto come "Greenheart Exchange". È stato allora che ha scoperto il lato oscuro del business degli scambi culturali per gli studenti stranieri. Lasciò quindi il ruolo e in seguito ha dato vita ad un'organizzazione noprofit, il "Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students" con sede ad Imperial, in California.

I genitori biologici devono fare per bene le loro ricerche sulle agenzie di scambio che sponsorizzano la permanenza dei loro figli in America. Molte di queste agenzie di scambio sono al centro di numerosi scandali sui giornali per il trattamento riservato agli studenti stranieri. Grijalva incoraggia i genitori biologici a leggere la pagina delle "News" sul sito di CSFES: Basta vedere quanto spesso queste agenzie di scambio hanno dato vita a situazioni orribili, delineando l'abuso e il maltrattamento degli studenti stranieri.

"Queste agenzie sono degli sponsor designati dal Dipartimento di Stato degli Stati Uniti. Ma lo Stato continua a rifiutarsi di rendere obbligatorio sulle famiglie ospitanti un controllo della fedina penale attraverso l'uso delle impronte digitali (il cosiddetto "FBI criminal background check"). Tutto questo a discapito degli studenti che vengono ospitati per un semestre o per un intero anno scolastico", afferma Grijalva. Questa importante misura di sicurezza a tutela dei minori ridurrebbe in maniera notevole il numero degli studenti stranieri inseriti nelle abitazioni di pedofili oppure di genitori ospitanti con una fedina penale sporca.

Grijalva incoraggia i genitori che desiderano mandare i propri figli a studiare all'estero nel fare semplicemente il loro lavoro e di fare domande dure e precise prima di essere così celeri nel firmare un assegno da quindici mila euro. I genitori biologici dovrebbero chiedere all'agenzia di scambio se l'agenzia che sponsorizza la permanenza in America esegua un vero controllo della fedina penale attraverso un controllo delle impronte digitali sulle loro famiglie ospitanti. Se così non è, questo dovrebbe essere un campanello d'allarme.

Non mandate vostro figlio o vostra figlia adolescente all'estero facendo sì che il loro sogno di studiare in America possa trasformarsi nel loro peggiore incubo.

Judge sends woman in foreign-exchange student case to prisonBY JOE MCDONALD (STAFF WRITER)
Published: May 5, 2010

EDNA BURGETTE Fired, facing charges

A Scranton woman was sentenced to three months in Lackawanna County Prison on Tuesday for recklessly endangering foreign-exchange students she placed in squalid living conditions while collecting fees for setting up host families.
"I tried my best," Edna Burgette, 70, said before she was sentenced by Judge Michael J. Barrasse. "I couldn't keep up."
She said her advancing age and declining health worked against her. "I think the job got the best of her," said her attorney, Christopher Osborne. "it was an unfortunate situation she got herself into."
Besides the county prison time, Judge Barrasse ordered Ms. Burgette to serve 33 months on probation. Citing her history of heart problems, Mr. Osborne asked Judge Barrasse to sentence her to house arrest. Mr. Osborne also noted Ms. Burgette is awaiting sentencing in federal court on one count of fraud in connection with the foreign-exchange students investigation. Sentencing is set for May 27 before U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo. Ms. Burgette faces up to six months in prison, Mr. Osborne said.
In rejecting the request for house arrest, Judge Barrasse said the "children were endangered over a long period of time in horrendous conditions." The judge also questioned why the Aspect Foundation, the outfit that paid Ms. Burgette, had not been charged. First Assistant District Attorney Gene Talerico, the prosecutor on the case, said that part of the investigation had been referred to the U.S. Office of Inspector General.
In the federal court case, Ms. Burgette admitted to collecting about $2,900 for five student placements based on fraudulent paperwork in which she lied about host families. Investigators said Mrs. Burgette placed students in homes without completing background checks, then moved students from home to home,
As a coordinator for the Aspect Foundation, Ms. Burgette received $400 for each foreign-exchange student she placed and a $20 monthly payment for supervision. State and federal regulations required her to file paperwork with Aspect, based in San Francisco, that showed she screened potential host families and updated the progress of the students.
The federal probe started after about a dozen students said they were neglected after being placed in Scranton-area homes during the 2008-09 school year.
The students told investigators they lived in filthy homes, some of which were later condemned. Several said they were living with an ex-convict, and at least one student required medical attention for lack of adequate nutrition. All said Ms. Burgette, now the former area coordinator for San Francisco-based Aspect Foundation, ignored their complaints, even though she was paid by Aspect to place the students and check up on them.
As he headed home after watching the sentencing, the Rev. Elmer Smith said he did not believe Ms. Burgette had done anything wrong.

"I think it was a mountain made out of a molehill," the Rev. Smith said. "She took them (the children) on vacation, even to church."

Contact the writer:

Soerensen vs. Jackson, Jackson, MyEducation and ASSE International, Inc.


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