he Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program for Pakistan 2021 is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is implemented by a consortium of organizations led by American Councils.

Program Introduction

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program for Pakistan 2021is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is implemented by a consortium of organizations led by American Councils. The program provides high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations the opportunity to spend an academic year as an exchange student in the United States, attending high school and living with an American host family.

Students are enrolled for a full academic year of high school study in the U.S., attending classes and participating in extracurricular activities with their American classmates. Youth Exchange students also participate in special enrichment activities, including community service, youth leadership training, and other activities that help them learn more about American culture. In addition, students serve as “cultural ambassadors” in their host communities, sharing their rich and vibrant culture and educating Americans about Pakistan.

In Pakistan, Society for International Education (SIE) administers the YES program in partnership with the local U.S. Embassy, Public Affairs Office. Since 2003, the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program has provided scholarships to 1,351 high school students from all over Pakistan.


  • Applicants must be between the ages of 15 – 17 by the start of program (August 15, 2022).
  • Applicants must be enrolled in a secondary school at the time of application.
  • Applicants must have the equivalent of a “B” average or better and no failing grades.
  • Applicants must meet U.S. J-1 visa eligibility requirements (U.S. citizens are not eligible for a J-1 visa).
  • Applicants must be citizens of Pakistan.
  • Applicants must be enrolled in 9 th or 10 th grade or ‘O’ Levels at a secondary school in Pakistan at the time of application. (Note for ‘O’ Level students: Only ‘O’ Level 9 th grade or ‘O’ Level 10 th grade students are eligible to apply. ’O’ Level 11 th graders are not eligible.)
  • Applicants must have earned minimum marks of 60% in all major/core subjects (English, mathematics, sciences) in the last session attended without any failing grades and have at minimum, overall average marks of 60% for the past three academic years (2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21).
  • Applicants who were promoted without taking the annual examinations in the 2019-20 academic year due to COVID-19, will need to obtain a subject wise performance document from their school. The document must be stamped and signed by an authorized school official. Also, if they had any class test mark sheet (transcript) for 2019-20, they must also attach it when filling out the online application. (Note: Applicants must earn minimum marks of 60% in all subjects on the annual exams that will be held in 2022, prior to their departure to the U.S. Students will be required to send their mark sheets from the last examination.)
  • Students with a gap year or a repeated year are ineligible.
  • The student must be able to communicate in English. Applicants must have earned a minimum mark of 60% in English for the past three academic years (2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21).
  • The student must be at least 15 years old and no older than 17 years old on August 15, 2022.
  • The student must not have traveled to the United States.

In addition to the above requirements, students who also meet the following criteria are more likely to be short listed for the final round of selection.

  • The applicant can represent and demonstrate Pakistani culture and values at American schools and communities.
  • The applicant demonstrates maturity, flexibility, adaptability, good character and scholastic aptitude.
  • The applicant is willing to participate in the host family’s daily life.
  • The applicant has record of all necessary immunizations, as outlined in the Final Student Application, before arriving in the United States.
  • The applicant demonstrates flexibility and a commitment to promoting cross-cultural understanding.
  • The applicant agrees to attend classes as a full-time student and maintain at least a ‘B’ grade average.
  • The applicant agrees to abide by the ‘YES Student Rules’ as outlined in the YES Final Application and all other rules and policies during the program.

Application & Selection Process

STEP-1 Online Preliminary Application:

Students who meet the selection criteria and sign the YES Program for Pakistan 2021 Parent/Student Agreement and Policies can apply for the YES program. (Visit YES Pakistan www.yespk.org to find these documents.) Students must fill out the online Preliminary Application and upload all the required documents. Female students, students with physical disabilities and students from non-elite and government schools who meet the criteria are strongly encouraged to apply. Participating schools/organizations are requested to help students who meet the eligibility criteria fill out the online Preliminary Application.STEP-2 Online Interview:

After the initial online Preliminary Application screening, short-listed applicants for Pakistan 2021 will be notified for YES 2022-23 online interviews. Students who are shortlisted for online interviews will be notified via the e-mail they used when filling out the online Preliminary Application.STEP-3 Proctored Essays, Group Activity and In-person Interview:

Students who qualify for the online interview will be required to appear in person for proctored writing essays and participate in a group activity and in-person interview. The YES Final Application and information about the venue and date for the interview will be sent via courier to the applicant at the address provided in the online Preliminary Application. Students will be required to bring and submit their completed YES Final Application, along with the other required documents to the interview.STEP-4 ELTiS:

Students who qualify for Step 3 will be required to take the English language proficiency exam.STEP-5 Final Evaluation:

Final selection of students will be based on the following: online interview, group activity, in- person interview, completed YES Final Application with all required documents and the ELTiS test score. Finalists will be notified by a letter from the YES Program Director.

Keep checking the announcement section of the YES Pakistan 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 the selection process will result in automatic disqualification of the applicant.

Source YES Program

By Arsalan Ahmad

Arsalan Ahmad is a Research Engineer working on 2-D Materials, graduated from the Institute of Advanced Materials, Bahaudin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan.LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arsalanahmad-materialsresearchengr/