Please note that the information below pertains to the 2023-2024 NSLI-Y program cycle and is subject to change in future application cycles.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) offers many opportunities for American youth to participate in international exchanges. ECA seeks to represent the diversity of America in these youth exchange programs and to make sure the selection process is fair and transparent.
Strong selection preference is given to those who have not previously participated in an in-person exchange program or lived abroad for six months or more during the past five years.
This eligibility policy applies to the following programs, which take place outside the United States:
• Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Outbound
• Future Leaders Exchange Abroad Program (FLEX Abroad)
• Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad (YES Abroad)
• National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)
• Youth Leadership Programs (Outbound)
• Youth Ambassadors Program
NSLI-Y Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for NSLI-Y applicants must:
- Be a U.S. citizen at the time of application
- Have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, or the equivalent
- Be 15-18 years of age at start of the program
- For 2023 summer programs: birthdate between July 10, 2004 and June 10, 2008
- For 2023-2024 academic year programs: birthdate between August 30, 2004 and June 30, 2008
- Be enrolled in grades 9-12 (high school or home school equivalent) at the time of application
- Not be in either of the two ineligibility categories described below
1) Current or previous participant in ECA exchanges
U.S. citizens who are current or past participants in any of the above mentioned programs are not eligible to participate if:
- The two programs take place in the same calendar year.
- The individual is currently participating, or has already participated, in an academic year program.
Current or past participants in a short-duration program of eight (8) weeks or less are not eligible for another short-duration program but are eligible for an academic year program.
The restrictions above apply only to in-person programs taking place outside the United States. Participation in a virtual program does not make the applicant ineligible for programs of any length.
An individual may not participate in more than two of the above-listed programs, unless one of the programs was completely virtual.
2) Family member employment
For a period ending one year following the termination of such employment, association, or service:
- Employees of the U.S. Department of State/U.S. Agency for International Development are ineligible. This provision includes all employees, paid or unpaid (including part-time or temporary employees, consultants, externs, interns, fellows and personal services contractors).
- Immediate family members (e.g., dependent children) of employees of the U.S. Department of State/U.S. Agency for International Development are ineligible. This provision includes all employees, paid or unpaid (including part-time or temporary employees, consultants, externs, interns, fellows and personal services contractors). Self-supporting children who live apart from their parents are qualified to participate.
- Employees (and their immediate family members) of private and public agencies under contract or grant with the U.S. Department of State who perform services on behalf of U.S. Department of State exchange programs are ineligible.
The health and well-being of participants and staff is a top priority. The NSLI-Y program is a rigorous overseas immersion program and may be physically and emotionally challenging. Each student must be committed to working hard and participating fully in the group program, beginning with the mandatory pre-program language activities and pre-departure orientation to completion.
Each participant must:
- Be able to stay alert and to focus for up to four hours a day during language classes, while participating in cultural activities, and when receiving staff instructions.
- Attend daily classes and activities, as dictated by the program schedule and for the duration of the program (program dates will be provided at the time of finalist notification).
- Work effectively as a member of a team despite potentially stressful and difficult conditions. This may require problem solving on an interpersonal or group level as well as a willingness to accept differences.
- Contribute to a safe learning environment by treating others with respect in person and online.
- Effectively communicate ideas and concerns on an individual and group level.
- Perform necessary self-care, including maintaining adequate nutrition and hydration, dressing appropriately for cultural and environmental conditions, maintaining personal hygiene, and managing known health conditions and medications.
- Follow detailed instructions on travel, risk management, personal care, safety, and other topics.
- With reasonable accommodations, be able to navigate transportation independently between program-provided housing and the institute site, up to 60 minutes each way.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) offers many opportunities for American youth to participate in international exchanges, including NSLI-Y and Virtual NSLI-Y. All students meeting the eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply for NSLI-Y and Virtual NSLI-Y programs.
ECA seeks to represent the diversity of America in these youth exchange programs and to make sure the selection process is fair and transparent.
Strong selection preference is given to those who have not previously participated in an overseas, in-country exchange program or lived abroad for six months or more during the past five years.
Preference may be given to applicants who:
- Do not have access to critical language resources in their home community
- Live in a U.S. state or U.S. territory underrepresented in study abroad.
- Identify with a community that is underrepresented in study abroad
- Would not otherwise be able to study abroad
The NSLI-Y program seeks applicants who represent the diversity of the United States. Students of all racial, ethnic, religious, gender identities, sexual orientations, disabilities, and socio-economic backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
Previous language study is not required. Students of all levels of language ability are welcome to apply.