YES Program for Sierra Leone Students in USA, 2018-2019



Are you interested in studying abroad on an exchange program? The Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad scholarship application is now open. The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad program is offering Sierra Leona students and recent graduates full scholarships to study for one academic year in countries with significant Muslim populations.

Participants live with a host family, attend a local high school, acquire leadership skills, and engage in activities to learn about the host country’s society and values; they also help educate others about American society and values.


The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was established by Congress in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. 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 through the U.S. Department of State and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend up to one academic year in the United States.

Students live with host families, attend high schools, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures. Starting in 2009, the YES Abroad program was established in order to provide a similar experience for U.S. students (15-18 years) to spend an academic year in select YES countries.

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 and includes the placement and recruitment organizations listed on their respective pages.

YES Program in Sierra Leone

The program officially launched in Sierra Leone in 2009 in hopes to expand communication between the people of the United States and Sierra Leone in order to promote mutual understanding and respect. Since then, over 30 Sierra Leonean students have completed the YES program and now participate as alumni.

Level/Field of study:

The scholarships are available for pursuing Exchange program in all fields.

Candidates working in trade and economy, good governance, security, environmental, public administration fields are encouraged to apply.

Host Nationality:

The Fulbright Scholarship is hosted by institutions in the United States.

Eligible Nationality:

Scholarship is open to students who are citizens and resident of Sierra Leone

Scholarship Benefits:

The YES scholarship covers costs related to:
• round-trip airfare from your home country to the United States;
• the cost of a Pre-Departure Orientation;
• placement with a U.S. host family for 10 to 11 months;
• a modest monthly stipend;
• health insurance; and
• the cost of program activities and materials.

Scholarship Number:

The number of offers was not specified


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 to 18 by the start of program.
  • Must be enrolled in a Government Secondary School.
  • Be enrolled in SSS1 (Grade 10) or SSS2 (Grade 11) in a secondary school at the time of application.
  • Not be a private school student.
  • Have the equivalent of a B average or better without failing grades.
  • Have not completed more than 11 years of primary education nor received a WASCE result by the start of the program.
  • Should be able to pass all the test that will be conducted by the YES scholars in their home countries.
  • Should not be a citizen of USA and have not born in USA.
  • Have not applied for Green Card at the time of applying for the scholarship
  • Should have good communication skills to represent their home countries in united states.
  • Should have interest and great will to promote their culture and values in United states of America.
  • Meet U.S. J-1 visa eligibility requirements (for instance, U.S. citizens are not eligible for J-1 visa).
  • Be a citizen of Sierra Leone.

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 Procedure:

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.

Applicant will also need to provide the following:

  • A photocopy of your current academic year transcript and a certified copy of the last two academic year transcripts.
  • A copy of your birth certificate.

Step by Step Application Procedures

  • Fill out the Kennedy-Lugar YES application completely. Incomplete applications will not be considered
  • Provide official school grades for the last three years (preferably in English)
  • Provide a current passport-sized photo
  • Provide a copy of Ikhraj Kaid or residency ID
  • Applicants can submit the application online to [email protected]send it through the school, or mail the application to the following address:

Kennedy-Lugar YES Program

Sierra Leone
Floor 1 National Stadium Hostel
Sierra Leone

Office Telephone: +232 78 270 412

You can begin the application and get more details by clicking the Scholarship Link

Application Deadline:

Currently, Applications for the year is closed. But we will keep you informed on when next it is available

Obtaining Visa for YES Program

Participants who accept Finalist status during the selection phase will be provided with visa application instructions from the administering organization. Please keep in mind that the visa requirements are determined by the host country’s government.

It is common for the visa application process to require applicants to obtain several notarized copies of official documents for the participant and natural parents, such as the birth certificate, immunization certificates, and school documentation.

Applying for USA Student Visa

Generally, any visa applicant coming to the United States to attend an approved educational course of study requires a Student Visa.

In order to make sure that Sierra Leone continues to receive the benefits of the exchange program, U.S. visa requirements state that visitors under an exchange program return to and remain in Sierra Leone for a minimum period of two years after completion of their programs. The Commission will assist grantees in obtaining visas for their spouses and minor children, though the grantees are responsible for their living expenses.

Upon acceptance to a U.S. school the student plans to attend, the student will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Instructions on completing the SEVIS I-901 fee and associated signatures through the SEVIS system will be provided by the U.S. school.

Steps required to apply for a US Visa

If required to apply for a Visa to travel to the United States the process includes the following steps:

  1. Determine the type of Visa required to travel to the United States. Information about Visa types can be found at
  2. Complete the online visa application form, DS-160. The DS-160 is a U.S. Government on-line form and can only be completed at Each applicant must complete this form before using any services on this website.
  3. Return to this website and complete the following application steps to schedule a Consular Section appointment:
    • Create a user account
    • Enter the DS-160 confirmation number for each applicant applying for a Visa
    • Pay the Nonimmigrant Visa (MRV) application fee(s)
    • Schedule a Consular Section appointment
  4. Attend the Consular Section appointment.

Note: Applicants of a certain age group or those who are renewing a previous U.S. visa may be eligible to apply for a visa without attending a Consular interview. Eligibility for the “Interview Waived” program will be determined as the applicant goes through the process of scheduling an appointment through this site. The determination will be made based on the answers provided to the qualifying criteria.

General Required Documents – For All Visa Types

The following documents are required for all visa types:

  1. Current Passport valid for travel to the United States. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements.)
  2. Passport containing the most recently issued U.S. Visa (if applicable).
  3. Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  4. Confirmation and Instructions page printed from this website
  5. One 5 x 5 cm (2 x 2 inches) color photo taken within the last 6 months. Further details regarding Department of State photo guidelines can be found at:

If you are attending an appointment in person, you must bring original documents. If you are eligible to send your documents via courier, you must send your current valid passport and the prior passport containing the most recently issued U.S Visa (if applicable), as well as the DS-160 confirmation page and copies of any other supporting documents. Please see the section below for a list of supporting documents required for each visa type.

additional requested documents for an in-person interview may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip; and/or
  • Your ability to pay all the costs of your trip.
  • Evidence of your employment and/or family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country.
  • If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all of the costs for your trip.

For more information, contact

U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone

U.S. Embassy Freetown
Southridge – Hill Station
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Phone: +232 99 105 000
To obtain past YES program interview question papers, click on the following PDF link

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