The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was established in October, 2002. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, along with the U.S. exchange community, recognized the importance of youth exchange as a key component to building bridges between citizens of the United States and countries around the world, particularly those with significant Muslim populations.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to study for one academic year in the United States. YES students serve as “youth ambassadors” of their home country, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities. Participants live with a host family, attend an American high school, acquire leadership skills, and engage in activities to learn about U.S. society and values; they also help educate Americans about their home country and culture.

The program officially launched in Pakistan in 2003 in hopes to expand communication between the people of the United States and Pakistan in order to promote mutual understanding and respect. Since then, over 1120 Pakistani students have completed the YES program and now participate as alumni.

The YES program is administered in partnership with the U.S. Department of State by a consortium of non-profit organizations led by American Councils for International Education. In Pakistan, iEARN Pakistan manages the YES program in partnership with the local U.S. Embassy, Public Affairs Office.

  • Eligibility

    In keeping with the U.S. Government-sponsored initiatives, dedicated to democratic reform, the competition for the Youth Exchange and Study scholarship is merit-based and open at no cost to all applicants who meet the following requirements:

    • Be between the ages of 15-17 by the start of program (August 1, 2018);
    • Be enrolled in a secondary school at the time of application; 9th or 10th grade or ‘O’ Levels students.
    • Minimum 60% marks in all major/core subjects (English, Mathematics, Sciences) in the last class attended; overall minimum average 60% marks for the past three years. (Students with a gap year or a repeated year are ineligible.)
    • Can communicate in English. Minimum 60% marks in the last English exam (2016-17) and minimum 60% marks in previous two years (2014-15 and 2015-16).
    • Meet U.S. J-1 visa eligibility requirements (for instance, U.S. citizens are not eligible for J-1 visa);
    • Be a citizen of Pakistan.
    • Must not have traveled to the United States.

    Note: Minimum 60% marks in all subjects in the examination that will be held before departure to the U.S.A. (The annual exams that will be held in 2018). Students will be required to send their mark sheets of the last examination when they receive the mark sheets.

    Students who meet the following in addition to the above criteria are likely to be short listed for the final selection:

    • Be a citizen of Pakistan.
    • Should pass English Language Proficiency test.
    • Know and practice Pakistani culture and values, and be able to represent the same in U.S. schools and communities.
    • Demonstrate maturity, flexibility, adaptability, good character, and scholastic aptitude.
    • Willingness to participate in host family’s daily life.
    • Record all necessary immunizations, as outlined in the student application, before arriving to the United States.
    • Should demonstrate flexibility and a commitment to promoting cross-cultural understanding.
    • Agreement to attend classes as a full-time student and maintain at least a ‘B’ Grade average in an American high school.
    • Willingness and agreement to abide by the YES Student Rules as outlined in the YES Student Application and all other rules and policies during the program.
    • Meet U.S. J-1 visa eligibility requirements (for instance, U.S. citizens are not eligible for J-1 visa).

    Students with Disabilities
    The program can support students with disabilities and encourages their participation. The Department of State and the YES program work with Mobility International (MIUSA) to provide students with disabilities leadership-building workshops, appropriate information and support as needed to enhance their year in America. Students with disabilities must also meet the above eligibility requirements.

  • Application Selection

    There are multiple rounds to the YES application and selection process. All applicants are required to take an English proficiency exam, write a proctored essay, complete a YES program application, and participate in group and individual in-person interviews. All finalists are selected on the basis of merit.

    See below for country specific application and selection guidelines.

    STEP-1 Preliminary Application

    Students who fulfill the Selection Criteria and agree to the Parent Student Agreement and General Program Rules (Please visit the website or facebook, can apply for the scholarship. Female students, students with physical disabilities and students from non-elite and government schools who meet the criteria are strongly encouraged to apply.

    Students who are eligible according to the Selection Criteria but their schools are not interested in participating in the YES program can apply independently. They can download the Preliminary Applications from the website ( or facebook page ( and submit along with all the required documents via courier or mail. Please do not send any original documents. Any documents submitted are not returned. Only send the photocopies of the documents mentioned in the Preliminary Application.

    The participating schools/organizations must collect fully completed Preliminary Applications with all required documents from students and submit the applications and required documents to the iEARN Center, Karachi.

    STEP-2 Entry Test

    • After the initial Preliminary Application screening, short listed applicants will be notified for YES Entry Test (proctored essays) through letters sent to their address mentioned in the Preliminary Applications.

    STEP-3 Interviews

    • Students who pass the Entry Test will be sent/couriered Interview letters with YES Final Applications.
    • Students will be required to fill up YES Final Application and appear in Interviews. (Students must come with completed YES Final Application along with required documents.)

    STEP-4 ELTiS

    • Students who get through the interview will be required to take English Language Proficiency Test.

    STEP-5 Final Evaluation

    • Final selection of students will be based on Entry Test, Interview, neatly filled completed YES Final Application with all required documents and ELTiS test score.
    • The finalists will be notified by a letter and Scholarship Acceptance form from the YES Program Director.

    Keep checking the announcement section of YES website or facebook page for updates and information.

    Important Note:  Providing any false/forged documents or information or any discrepancy found at any stage of selection process will result in disqualification of the applicant.

    Official Link

Saad Ur Rehman Saadi
Saad Ur Rehman Saadi

My name is Saad ur Rehman, and I hold a M.Sc (Hons.) in Agronomy and MA in Journalism. I am currently serving as an Agriculture Officer in the Agriculture Extension Department. I have previously worked with Zarai Tarqiati Bank as an MCO. With my education in agriculture and journalism, I am able to effectively communicate issues that affect farmers' daily lives. In recognition of my community and literary services, I was awarded a gold medal by the government.

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