Office of Educator Licensure

Exchange Visitor Program

Exchange Visitor Program - Teacher

The Exchange Visitor program implements the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (the "Act"). The purpose of the Act is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges. These exchanges assist the Department of State in furthering the foreign policy objectives of the United States. The Exchange Visitor program – Teacher category in particular, promotes the interchange of U.S. and foreign teachers. Exchange teachers sharpen their professional skills and participate in cross-cultural activities in schools and communities, and they return home after the exchange to share their experiences and increased knowledge of the United States and the U.S. educational system. Such exchanges enable foreign teachers to better understand U.S. culture, society and teaching practices at the primary and secondary levels, and enhance U.S. students' knowledge of foreign cultures, customs and teaching approaches.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) is one of many approved sponsors participating in this program and like many sponsors, only sponsors exchange visitors from countries with which it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). DESE currently has an MOU with both the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport and the Portuguese Instituto Camões. Through these partnerships, licensed teachers from Spain and Portugal who meet the eligibility criteria are able to come to the United States on a J visa and teach as a full-time teacher of record in a Massachusetts accredited public or private primary or secondary school (PreK-12), for a period of up to three years.

General summary (estimates and ranges) of fees and other costs related to becoming/being an exchange teacher in Massachusetts

  • Sponsor fee, foreign or domestic third party fee, or partner fees: None
  • Visa fee: $160 as of 03/23/2016
  • Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 SEVIS Fee; $180 - $200
  • Health insurance costs: Educator may contact host school for list of health insurance plans offered and related costs – workers pay on average $4,760 toward the cost of their coverage (individual coverage only, or family coverage may be significantly more expensive) Source: Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) - 03/23/2016
  • Estimates for food: 11.7% of household budget (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Housing: 33.3% of household budget (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Local transportation costs: 15.1% of household budget (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Expected work-related deductions:

This varies by school district and will be provided to the exchange teacher by their host school/school district at the time that the exchange visitor is accepted into the program and prior to the exchange teacher signing their contract. Estimated work related deductions can include, but may not be limited to:

  • Federal withholdings (Federal Tax) – range between 10%-25% of gross income (total of all income from whatever source prior to deductions, money left after deductions is referred to as net income), rate dependent upon allowable deductions. Please note that some countries have applicable tax treaties with the United States, while others do not. Exchange teachers may wish to contact a professional tax return preparer to better understand their tax obligations and/or for guidance on how to prepare and submit their yearly U.S. federal and state tax returns. Virtual Exchange Toolkit for Teachers.State withholdings (State Tax) - 5.1% of gross income
  • Medicare tax - 1.5% of gross income
  • Social Security tax – 6.2% of gross income
  • Health insurance (see estimated costs in section above)
  • Union dues – contact host school for more information; average cost is $650 per academic year

Exchange Visitor Resources

Download Word Document
Exchange Visitor Program Application
Download Word Document
Exchange Visitor Handbook
Download Word Document
Exchange Visitor Annual Cross-cultural Activity Report
Download Word Document
Exchange Visitor Program Extension Application
View External Link
Driver's License and Social Security Brochure
View External Link
Brochure — The Exchange Visitor Program
View External Link
William Wilberforce Brochure
View External Link
Internal Revenue Services – International Taxpayers
View External Link
Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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