Please note that the information below pertains to the 2023-2024 Virtual 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.

In the selection process, preference will be given to candidates who:

  • Have no prior exchange experience
  • Have no or limited overseas travel, or residency
  • Have no or limited familiarity with culture(s) associated with the relevant target language
  • Have not received formal instruction or tutoring in any of the other NSLI-Y languages (Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Turkish)
  • Have not received formal instruction or tutoring in any language

Virtual NSLI-Y Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for Virtual NSLI-Y, participants must be:

  • U.S. citizen at the time of application
  • U.S. high school student for 2023-24 academic year
  • Between ages of 15-18 at the start of the Fall 2023 Program (Birthday range: September 12, 2004 – September 11, 2008)
  • Living in and attending school in the U.S.
  • Beginner/novice-level learner in the selected target language, who:
    • Has not received formal instruction in the target language from school/home school, camp, tutor, or online programs and will not be enrolled in formal instruction during the Virtual NSLI-Y program
    • Is unable to affirmatively answer the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements for any level
    • Is not a previous participant of any NSLI-Y program
    • Is not a current or past participant of another U.S. Department of State (virtual or in-country) exchange program
  • Meets the following requirements for immediate 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.

Participation Requirements

Virtual NSLI-Y requires that participants be mature, self-directed learners who can actively participate in the program in a virtual environment with limited supervision from the virtual teacher(s). Attendance at all scheduled activities and completion of assignments are mandatory. If participants have more than three (3) absences, they may be dismissed from the program. The program’s focus is on exposure to language and cultural learning; grades will be used to provide students with feedback and track progress.

Students with a disability or chronic illness are encouraged to apply for accommodations. Applicants may share information about necessary accommodations in their application; this information will not be considered in the selection process. Finalists will be provided with a disability policy and instructions on how to request reasonable accommodations.

Technical Requirements

Participants must be able to access the following:
• Reliable internet
• Laptop, desktop computer, or tablet (a mobile phone is not a suitable alternative)
• Web camera (built-in or USB)
• Headset (headphones and microphone combination)

Selected finalists who do not have access to the above due to financial need may contact  for documentation to request funding assistance.

Virtual NSLI-Y introduced me to the Russian language. Because of my experience, I now plan on studying and speaking Russian over the course of my life. I am more interested in global situations and foreign countries than ever before.

Pre-Program Requirements

Prior to the start of virtual class sessions, participants are expected to complete:

  • Student orientation
  • Contact information updates
  • Accommodations requests, if needed
  • Pre-program survey
  • Test session to meet teacher/classmates
  • Brief assignments or readings as specified by the teacher prior to the program’s start

On-Program Requirements

While participating in Virtual NSLI-Y, students are expected to:

  • Complete homework assignments and projects
  • Complete required program surveys
  • Attend all classes and program activities. If absent, students must review material that they missed and complete all assignments on schedule. Students may be considered for dismissal if they miss more than 3 classes (or the equivalent), are regularly tardy, or violate policies described in the Terms and Conditions.
  • Attend additional student group meetings for community-building outside of class hours, cultural opportunities, and U.S. Department of State presentations when possible (optional but highly encouraged)

Post-Program Requirements and Expectations

  • Complete post-program survey
  • Participate in closing ceremony

Certificate of Completion

To receive a Virtual NSLI-Y U.S. Department of State certificate of completion, participants must: 

  • Complete all surveys
  • Attend all scheduled virtual sessions (*up to three excused absences allowed)
  • Actively and fully participate in virtual sessions
  • Complete all homework assignments outside of classroom hours as required by teacher or program staff