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​​​​​​​International Students in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Archdiocese of Los Angeles​ welcomes international students to Catholic elementary schools and high schools. Through the cultural exchange of learning, praying, playing, and growing together, the presence of these international students enriches the educational and religious experiences of everyone in the school community.

The following policies apply to both elementary schools and high schools except as specifically noted.

​International Student Exchange Visitor Placement Organizations Act

Under California law, any person or entity that places two or more international students at an elementary school or high school in California within a five-year period is an International Student Exchange Visitor Placement Organization (ISEVPO) and must register with the California Attorney General's office. Please see the list of ISEVPOs that are registered ​with the ​California ​Attor​ney General's office.​

ISEVPOs that have agreed to provide services to place students in California are required to provide an informational document in English to each student, host family, and designated school official in the school where the student is being placed.

​The informational document must be provided before the student is placed with any host family or school and shall include the following:

​Use of ISEVPOs

International students apply to archdiocesan schools directly or through ISEVPOs.

ISEVPOs typically market a school in a foreign country, recruit potential students, and assist students in the admissions process. ISEVPOs also arrange for transportation, provide orientation, and obtain suitable housing for international students while they attend school.

Schools must obtain the name and local address of each ISEVPO that assists an international student to apply to an archdiocesan school.

Schools may only work with ISEVPOs that are registered with the California Attorney​ General's office.

No ISEVPO contracts may be signed and no verbal agreements may be made without approval from both the De​partment of Catholic Schools and the Office of ​the Legal Counsel,​ and confirmation that, if applicable, the ISEVPO is currently registered with the California Attorney General.

While a one-year contract is preferred, a multi-year contract not to exceed four years may be considered for ISEVPOs that have existing and well-qualified relationships in the archdiocese.

Some ISEVPOs require schools to agree to an exclusive agreement that precludes these schools from accepting students who apply directly or through another ISEVPO. An ISEVPO that is not exclusive is preferred. However, a school may engage an ISEVPO as that specific school's exclusive provider of marketing, brand management, and recruiting services only if the school is allowed to retain the authority to accept international students without any financial obligation to the ISEVPO if one or more of the following conditions apply:

  • ​The student is already enrolled in the school at the time the exclusive ISEVPO contract is executed.

  • The student or the student's parents/guardians are permanent residents (i.e., Green Card holders).

  • The student applies to the school directly as a result of a family member or direct relative who lives in the community where the school is located.

  • The student matriculates from an archdiocesan elementary school.

The ISEVPO shall be responsible for complying with all legal requirements, conducting background checks, and if applicable, fingerprinting host families and all others who will interact with students in the United States. For schools that have entered into an exclusive contract with an ISEVPO, the ISEVPO also will be responsible for ensuring that host families attend and complete s​​afe environment training.

The ISEVPO shall be responsible for ensuring that students carry health insurance for all care while in the United States.

The ISEVPO must agree to indemnify the school and archdiocese for the conduct of the ISEVPO and host families. The ISEVPO must have insurance with a minimum policy limit of two million dollars on an occurrence basis and that names the school and the archdiocese as additional insureds.

Some ISEVPOS demand that schools keep the breakdown of the ISEVPO'S fees and school tuition and fees confidential. These conditions are strongly discouraged as they may be contrary to law and are not consistent with the expectation of transparency. In all circumstances, schools are permitted to discuss the breakdown of all fees and tuition within the archdiocese.

Host Families​

All international students who do not live with a relative must live with host families. Properly supervised dormitory-style living may be allowed upon prior approval of the Department of Catholic Schools. Unsupervised living arrangements are not permitted, even if the students are 18 years old or older. Host families should not house more than four students at the same time. Schools should consider interviewing the host family to confirm ​that the student is actually living with the family identified on the student's Form I-20 Application​​​ Cover Sheet

Schools shall not be involved in the selection of host families. However, schools may not accept students living with host families that house more than four international students at the same time without prior approval from their regional superintendent. Schools shall require a letter from the stu​dent's parents/guardians that identifies and approves the host family and place of residence (see the Host Family and/or Custodial Parent Form)​.

The parents/guardians, host family, and/or ISEVPO, if used, shall notify the school if there is any change in th​e student's ​​host family or residence (see the Host ​Family and/or Custodial Parent Form​)​.

Faculty, staff, coaches, and/or their spouses may not serve as host families, guardians or dormitory chaperones.

Host families are required to meet with the school for orientation and periodically thereafter. Host families must attend meetings and functions required of domestic parents/guardians. Host families that are not contractually required to attend safe environment training are nevertheless encouraged to do so.

The school should have a procedure for addressing any problems that may arise in connection with a host family or other residential facility.


The school admissions committee or administration must have the final decision on the admission of international students. Admission decisions shall not be delegated to an ISEVPO.

The international student application shall request that the applicant identify the ISEVPO, person, representative, or agency that referred the applicant to the school or is otherwise helping to place the applicant in the school. If the referring party is not a family member, the school must check with the C​alifornia Att​orney General's office to determine if the referring person or organization is registered.

While there is no limit on the number of international students that a school may accept, if a school intends to seek an international student population of more than 10% of the total student population, the school must first consult with and obtain the consent of the Departm​ent of Catholic Schools.

While international students assist schools in maintaining a healthy enrollment, international students should not be given priority if they provide increased revenue to the school; schools must fully include all direct and indirect costs of the program in their annua​​l b​udget​​. Prior to admission, the school also must evaluate proof of the student's financial responsibility.

As part of the admissions criteria for potential students, schools shall set academic qualifications and language proficiency standards. Measures of English language proficiency, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language​ (TOEFL) may be required as part of a student's evaluation for admission.

The school shall interview each international app​licant. All interviews should be conducted with a camera so that the interviewer can see and interact with the applicant; this may be accomplished through electronic communication such as Zoom, Skype or similar platform. This type of interview will help to determine the student's English language proficiency and provide an opportunity for the school to review the Catholic mission of the school with the prospective student. The school also should consider implementing a written portion of the interview.

Upon admission, any student admitted to an elementary school or high school must be age appropriate to the grade in which he or she is enrolled. The student's age at entrance should allow him or her time to graduate from high school before the student's 20th birthday. Schools may not accept new high school seniors without approval from the Department of Catholic Schools.

Schools may admit international students with a qualifying visa if they have been approved by the U.S. Department ​of Homeland Security​ (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

An international student must be accepted for admission to the school before it provides the parents/guardians with the Appl​ication​​ for Form I-20. When a student is accepted, the principal will obtain current I-20 forms directly from the Department of Catholic Schools. After the parents/guardians complete the I-20 application, the principal will send the I-20 forms to the Department of Catholic Schools for the signature of approved personnel.

All evidence that shows the scholastic ability and financial status on which admission is based should be on file at the school until the student's termination of studies has been reported by the Department of Catholic Schools to DHS and ICE.

The I-20 form requires the principal to state that the student's qualifications meet all standards for admission to the school and the student will be required to pursue a full course of studies.

Tuition, Fees, and Budget​​

The international student tuition should be aligned with the service. Additional tuition should reflect the extra service necessary to address the international student's needs, such as the salary and benefits of the international student coordinator, salary and benefits of the English as a Second Language (ESL) aide or additional teachers, additional paperwork, administrative work, counseling, ESL classes, etc. The school must take into account these additional expenditures when budgeting and setting the international tuition rate.

International students or families with permanent residency (i.e., Green Cards) are not typically part of the international student program and should be charged the domestic tuition rate.

The school shall not allow an ISEVPO to limit the school's ability to increase tuition. However, the school may agree with an ISEVPO to work together to ensure that any increase in tuition does not prohibit the ISEVPO from competitively marketing the school to the international community.

Notwithstanding a contractual agreement with an ISEVPO to maintain the confidentiality of ISEVPO fee structures, schools are always permitted to discuss ISEVPO fees among other archdiocesan schools and as required by law. Schools should always strive to be transparent to international students and their families regarding the cost of tuition and fees of the school.

The Department of Catho​lic Schools​​ includes an international student program worksheet for high schools in their annual school site budget packet.

The school shall advise each international student's family and the ISEVPO, if applicable, whether tuition covers such things as ESL classes, books, uniforms, field trips, athletic fees, lab fees, lunches, and yearbooks. This will enable the student's parents/guardians to make financial arrangements with their child to cover any additional costs throughout the student's enrollment and will further assist with informed, transparent marketing of the school to the international community.

The school is not permitted to waive all or part of international students' tuition, or grant them any type of scholarship or financial aid. The full international student tuition must be listed on the​ Application for Form I-20 and the school is bound by federal regulation to collect the specified amount.​


Curricular requirements for international students shall be consistent with the requirements for domestic students.

All international students are required to be enrolled in a religion course for a grade/credit each semester (see Knowled​ge of the Faith). The international student will be expected to participate, as appropriate, in religious functions and events.

International high school students may be enrolled in ESL classes concurrently with regular English classes. No more than one year of an ESL class may be approved as an admission requirement to the University of California s​ystem​.

Schools should consider requiring international students to participate in at least one club or athletic team to ensure integration with the domestic student body. Note that an I-20 is not legally ​required for an international student to attend summer sport camp.

Schools should appoint an international student coordinator to assist with the needs of their international student body.

​​​​​​Working Students​​​

  • Off-Campus Employment
    • ​No off-campus employment for I-20 students ​​during the first (1st) academic year.
    • After 1st year, a student in good standing may obtain employment off campus as determined by the DSO -- if the student experiences severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond student's control. Student would then need to apply to US for EAD (employment authorization/work permit card).​

  • ​On-campus Employment:

    • First (1st) academic year prohibition does not apply.
    • Includes work performed on school premises. However, there are restrictions.
      • Limited to 20 hours a week during school session.                                         
      • Must comply with U.S. Labor Laws. ​​​​​​​​​​

Information and Contacts

For information concerning the I-20 visa process or maintainin​​g visa status​​, please contact the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) coordinator in the Department of C​atholic Schools at 213-637-7300.

For information concerning ISEVPO contracts, disputes, or registration with the Califor​nia Attorney General's office​, please contact the Office of ​the Legal Counsel ​at 213-637-7511.

For all other questions and information, please contact the Departmen​t of Catholic Schools at 213-637-7300.​​

7-7-21​, 11-20-23