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-based organization providing friendship and hospitality to international students during two weeks of the Christmas holidays.    International students have the opportunity to visit a home, experience American family culture and Christmas traditions.   For the duration of the Christmas holidays, each host community plans a program of activities for its group of students.   Accommodations are provided in private homes or group housing.   Opportunities are made for the students to know the local families in their homes and businesses through shared meals and parties, joint sightseeing and daily excursions.

Some of the students are Christian; many are not.    Christmas International House is about hospitality and friendship rather than evangelizing.    Dialogue and exchange of ideas characterize the program rather than efforts to change views and beliefs.

When is Christmas International House?

The Christmas International House runs from December 18, 2018 to January 2, 2019. Some locations have elected to change these dates slightly. Consult the Locations page to determine the specific dates for each program.

Applications will be accepted between September 30th and November 15th or until all programs are filled.

Where is Christmas International House?

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

How Much Does Christmas International House Cost?

Since you will be a guest of the local community, your room and board will be paid for by your host.    The fee for applications received BEFORE November 1st  is discounted to $199.00  for singles ($225.00 for couples or families).     Applications received on November 1st are $299.00 ($299.00 for couples or families) ***.

You are responsible for your round trip transportation to and from your CIH host community and extra expenses indicated by the individual programs on the website.   There are different sponsoring groups, e.g., 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.

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

Group activities are planned for the whole two weeks of the program, so 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 hosts, with the hosts and other students.    It is important to discuss problems with the dates with the registration 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 Student Advisor to help you acquire a short-term policy.

You are responsible for your round trip transportation to and from your CIH host community.


Will I be placed in my first choice?

Students are frequently placed in their second or third program choice.    DO NOT include a city on your application if you do not really want to visit that location. The registration office makes every effort to place students in their first choice but that is not always possible. It is not mandatory to put three choices on the application. The important thing is to realize you could be placed in any of your choices.

Can unmarried couples stay together?

Only couples who have proof of marriage will be placed as married couples.  Engaged couples do not qualify as married couples, nor do brothers and sisters or close friends.

Can married couples join the program?

NCIH is a program designed with single people in mind. Unfortunately, we do not accommodate married couples or children.

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

Christmas International House prefers to limit the number of students from any one campus or country, if possible.

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.    For this reason we ask you to name at least six programs in the application.

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 congregations from various denominations and groups (like Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Mennonite, and councils of churches and civic organizations). You will be invited to attend Christmas services and celebrations, but religious conversion is not part 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.    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).    If other students from your school are accepted into the same program, please coordinate your travel arrangements to arrive at the same time.


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 YOUR CIH REGISTRATION OFFICE AND HOST PROGRAM IMMEDIATELY!    This is most important for your hosts are 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 appliced but no longer wish to particate please contact us as 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 registration fee if I cancel?

After submitting a completed application and paying a registration fee through PayPal, the maximum amount that may be refunded is limited to $125.   This maximum amount is only available in certain circumstances.   Please contact us to discuss it.

How do I pay my registration fee?

Christmas Internation House has partnered with PayPal to make the payment of registration 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 pay our fee.

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

I have another question. 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 advisor if you have any questions about joining Christmas International House.

If you need additional information you can email at cih@amis-inc.org

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