Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Who can join Christmas International House?

All international students or scholars studying at a college or university in the United States (non-immigrants, 18 years of age or older on an "F" or "J" visa) are invited to apply--regardless of race, nationality, religious background, or marital status.


What is Christmas International House?

Christmas International House (CIH) is a nation-wide ecumenical program providing friendship and hospitality to international students during 10 days to two weeks of winter break.  International students will have the opportunity to visit a home, experience American family culture and Christmas traditions.  For the duration of the 10-14 day stay, each host community plans a program of activities for its group of students.  Accommodations are provided as a free service in private homes or group housing.  Opportunities are made for the students to know the local community in their homes and businesses through shared meals and parties, joint sightseeing and daily excursions.


When is Christmas International House?

In a typical year, Christmas International House is from around December 18 to December 28 or January 2, depending on the location. Consult the Locations page to learn the specific dates for each program.


How can I apply to Christmas International House?

Applications can be submitted online from the Application page and will be processed between September 15 to November 17 or until all programs are filled.


What is the application process?

At the National office, the Registrar reviews your application to ensure that all the necessary requirements are met. 


The application requirements include  

·       three different location preferences,

·       proof of your current medical insurance (must provide dates of coverage),

·       current university or college ID card or class schedule,

·       approval of your application by your international student adviser,

·       information about your interests and future plans, and

·       payment of the application fee. 


After these application requirements have been satisfied, your application will be forwarded to your first location preference.  That Program director will determine if they can host you.  If not, your application is forwarded to the Program director of your second location preference.  If they cannot host you, your application is forwarded to the Program director of your third location preference.  Each local Program director makes the determination as to whether a student will be accepted to their program.  The desire of the Registrar is to keep your application moving to your next location preference until you are placed so that you may make travel arrangements as soon as possible.


Ready to apply?    Click Here to Apply


Where is Christmas International House?

Christmas International House is hosted by churches, civic groups and families in many cities and towns throughout the United States.  See our Locations page to learn which locations are currently available.


How Much Does Christmas International House Cost?

As a guest of the local community, your stay (room and meals in the home) will be covered by your host.  In some cities, a local church may be the sponsor, in others, a council of churches or community organizations will provide the hospitality. Programs may also be funded by voluntary contributions in the local community.


Your financial obligation is three-fold:  The initial application fee, program fee, if any, and your transportation costs.


Application fee:  The application fee goes to pay the National Registrar for administering the CIH programs, advertising, publications, website and staff.  The application fee is $239 before November 17.  After that date, the fee is $299.


Transportation costs:  You will be responsible for purchasing your round-trip transportation to and from your CIH host community.  The transportation can be by airplane, bus or train.  In some instances, the host will provide transportation the day of your arrival from the airport, bus or train station to their home. 


Program fee: Most local programs require an additional fee for participating in CIH to help defray costs of sightseeing, some meals, and other activities. See our Locations page to learn which locations have a Program fee and the amount.


Does my host get paid to provide me a homestay?

No, your host is a volunteer that freely opens their home to you. The host is interested in knowing more about you and your culture.


What are my obligations? Do I have to stay the whole time?

Group activities are planned for the whole program, and you are expected to arrive at the beginning and stay until the end.  CIH is not intended to be a motel or stopover for students who want to tour around the U.S. over the holidays.  Also, this is not a time to meet with other friends outside the program or to take a tourist trip.  You will be taking part in activities planned by your Program director and hosts, often with other hosts and other students.  It is important to discuss potential conflicts for the dates with the National office.


Hospitalization Insurance is mandatory for placement in a CIH program.  You are required to provide a copy of your insurance card showing coverage in effect during the period of your participation.  If you do not have insurance, ask your International Student Advisor to help you acquire a short-term policy.




Will I be placed in my first choice?

Students are sometime placed in their second or third program choice.  DO NOT include a city selection on your application if you do not really want to visit that location. The National office makes every effort to place students in their first choice but students are placed in a first come first serve process.  Please put three different choices on the application and realize you could be placed in any of your choices.


Can married couples apply?

Married couples can apply, and they should indicate their spouse's name on the application.


Will students from the same university or same country be placed together?

Christmas International House tries to diversify the number of students from any one campus or country, if possible. If you want to be considered with another student to join the same CIH program, please place the name of the student in "Other Information" section of your application. The other student should place your name in the "Other Information" section of the application as well.


The program I applied for has been filled. What happens now?

If you applied for a program that has already been filled, and have indicated alternative choices, we will try to place you in one of those programs.  If none of your choices are available, (or you failed to indicate alternative selections), you will be notified about other available programs and be requested to contact our office to discuss your options. 


If you are requested to contact us, please do so as quickly as possible. If you do not wish to accept an alternative program, we need to contact other students so as many students as possible can be placed in programs.


Do I have to attend church?

Christmas International House is an ecumenical program. Participating groups include churches from various denominations (like Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Mennonite, councils of churches, and civic organizations). Your host may invite you to attend Christmas services and celebrations and you have the option not to go.  Religious conversion is not the purpose of the CIH program. It is a peacemaking program, working to improve relations among peoples of the world and an outreach to our country's new international visitors who would otherwise have no way to share in the Christmas Season.


When should I make travel arrangements?

If you plan to travel by airplane or bus, please check the cost involved BEFORE applying.  Do NOT make travel reservations until you have been accepted in a program! If you have limited travel funds available, we recommend applying for a program closer to your school.  If you are traveling by car, remember snow tires are needed in many sections of the country in case of snow. 


Airplane reservations should be made immediately upon your acceptance into a program with plans to arrive between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM (if possible as a courtesy to your host).  If other students from your school are accepted into the same program, please coordinate your travel arrangements to arrive at the same time.


When you are accepted, BE SURE YOUR HOST OR PROGRAM DIRECTOR KNOWS THE DATE, EXACT TIME OF YOUR ARRIVAL AT THE PROGRAM AND YOUR TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS. Please ensure that you provide the departure date and time to your host at the same time you are providing the arrival information.


I need to cancel after I've been accepted. Now what happens?

CIH has been successful in the past due to the kindness of the American host families and the goodwill and positive response of the international students.  The Host Families are looking forward to your visit and have made special plans for you.  Cancellations are discouraged.  Serious problems have arisen when students failed to notify the host when a change of plans occurred.  IF YOUR PLANS DO CHANGE, PLEASE, AS A COURTESY, CALL NATIONAL OFFICE AND HOST PROGRAM IMMEDIATELY!  This is most important for your host who is making a special effort to make the Christmas holidays very special for you.


I've applied but need to withdraw my application before being accepted.

If you have applied but no longer wish to participate please contact the National office soon as possible.  The number of openings is limited and we need to contact other students so as many students as possible can be placed in programs.


Will I receive a refund for my application fee if I cancel?

After submitting a completed application and paying a registration fee through PayPal, the maximum amount that may be refunded is 75%.

Cancellations between Nov. 19-Dec. 3 receive a 50% refund.

Cancellations after Dec. 3 receive NO refund.  


How do I pay my application fee?

Christmas International House has partnered with PayPal to make the payment of application fees as easy as possible. Payment may be made using any major debit or credit card.  You are not required to have a PayPal account or register with PayPal to make a payment.


When you have prepared your application, click on the Pay Now link to enter your payment information.


Who should I contact?

We want to help you get information about us as quickly as possible.  We encourage you to consult with your student adviser if you have any questions about joining Christmas International House.


If you need additional information you can email us at, phone us at 470.851.1248 or go to our Contact page.


Do you offer scholarships?

YES! We do not want finances to keep any international student from participating in Christmas International House and partial or full scholarships are available for the Application Fee.  However, we cannot offer scholarships for the Program fee, as those cover admission tickets to local attractions and on-site travel expenses.  If you would like to request a scholarship for the Application fee, please email