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International & Exchange Student Bylaw Resource Center

Understanding the OHSAA International & Exchange Student Bylaw

Since its inception in 1908, the member schools of the OHSAA have welcomed international students to our state and into the athletics programs sponsored by the member schools with certain restrictions.  Unfortunately, the history of this Association and others like ours within the USA has demonstrated that students from outside the United States are very often targets for exploitation and recruitment for purely athletic reasons.  In order to keep the playing field level both the international student and for students who live in Ohio, to prevent displacement and to reduce the opportunity for recruiting, the membership has approved four ways by which an international student may participate in an Ohio member school.  Those four ways are described below and include what a school administrator must do to secure an eligibility ruling. 
The purpose of this section on the Bylaw 4-8-1 – International Students -  is to provide guidance as to the action required to ensure eligibility for the international student.
Bylaw 4-8-1 reads as follows: 
For the purpose of this bylaw, an international student is a student who is not a United States citizen and who is in Ohio receiving secondary education in an Ohio school. International students are ineligible for interscholastic athletics in Ohio unless they can meet one of the exceptions below.

Bylaw 4-8-1, Exception 1 Guidance

EXCEPTION 1: An international student may be declared eligible if the student’s parents have made a bona fide legal change of residence into Ohio and the international student is enrolled and attending an Ohio member school. The student is ineligible until ruled eligible by the Executive Director’s office.
Note #1: This exception requires that both parents make the move into Ohio. If, however, the international student is moving with parents into Ohio from another high school within the United States, an affidavit of bona fide residence in support of transfer bylaw 4-7-2 exception one is required.
Note #2: Please be advised that students who transfer into an Ohio high school under this international exception must adhere to an exception to the transfer bylaw 4-7-2 or be prepared to sit out of all contests until the first 50% of the maximum allowable regular season contests have been competed in any sport that they played in the 12 months immediately prior to the transfer.
The Principal or other administrator shall submit a letter to either Roxanne Price or Deborah Moore listing all international students who are attending that school during the current year and wish to participate in interscholastic athletics.  The letter serves as verification that the parents, who are not US citizens, are legal residents of Ohio and that the students have not participated in an interscholastic sport in the 12 months immediately preceding their transfer, if applicable.
If the parents are moving into a district in Ohio from another school district, then transfer bylaw 4-7-2 exception one may apply.  Click here to read that guidance: http://www.ohsaa.org/Portals/0/Eligibility/4-7-2Guidance_Exc1.pdf 

Bylaw 4-8-1, Exception 2 Guidance

EXCEPTION 2: The international student who is a participant in a recognized visitor exchange program may be eligible for interscholastic athletics subject to the restrictions and conditions set forth below:
a. The international student may be eligible for a maximum of one school year which is the first year of enrollment at the Ohio member school.
b. The international student has not previously participated in any other visitor exchange program in the United States. If the international student has participated in another visitor exchange program in Ohio or any other state, the period of participation in that other program shall count against the one year maximum eligibility set forth in (a) above.
c. The international student is in this country pursuant to a J-1 Visa. No other visa type, passport or other documentation shall qualify the student for eligibility under this exception.
d. There shall be no evidence of a direct placement for athletic purposes into a specific member school in Ohio.
e. No more than five (5) international students from the same visitor exchange program, in one member school, shall be permitted to be eligible during any school year.
The international student described in this Exception 2 shall be ineligible until declared eligible by the Executive Director’s office upon submission of the appropriate form.
Please review the memo explaining this process here http://www.ohsaa.org/Portals/0/Eligibility/forms/FEmemo.pdf.  In order to secure a ruling, please complete the form, sign and send via email to Molly Downard at mdownard@ohsaa.org .  The form that shall be used is found here http://www.ohsaa.org/Portals/0/Eligibility/forms/FEelig.pdf. When the principal or other senior administrator signs off on this form, that signature indicates personal verification of each of the requirements, including the student’s possession of the J1 visa. 

Bylaw 4-8-1, Exception 3 Guidance

EXCEPTION 3: A student from a country or province outside the United States may be declared eligible for interscholastic athletics upon the submission of a court-approved document certifying the student’s adoption by a legal resident of the school district in which the student is attending. The student is not eligible until declared eligible by the Executive Director upon submission of the appropriate court documents
The principal or athletic administrator shall send to either Roxanne Price or Deborah Moore:
1. Copy of the court entry approving the adoption and signed by either a judge or magistrate.
2.  Cover letter verifying that the person named in the adoption document is a bona fide resident of the new public school district into which the student has transferred (or non-public school if that option is selected) or is currently attending and the student will live with the adoptive parent.

Bylaw 4-8-1, Exception 4 Guidance

EXCEPTION 4: An international student may be declared eligible in accordance with specific state or federal statutes.

Email Dr. Debbie Moore (dmoore@ohsaa.org) or Ms. Roxanne Price (rprice@ohsaa.org) in order to request a ruling.

Bylaw 4-8-2 - Ohio Student Return from an International Exchange Program

An Ohio student returning from an international exchange program may resume interscholastic competition in the same Ohio member school from which the student left provided the student meets all requirements relative to age, semesters of eligibility as well as preceding grading
period scholastic requirements upon return to the member high school.

These requirements mean that the student shall be considered to have used semesters of eligibility while studying abroad, and shall have received passing grades which count toward graduation in a minimum of five one credit courses or the equivalent in the final grading period
of the exchange program (Bylaw 4-4-1). Such a student is ineligible until ruled eligible by the Executive Director’s office.
The Principal shall submit a letter requesting the restoration of eligibility citing circumstances of the student’s situation to either Roxanne Price or Deborah Moore.