Agency Certification

What is AIRC Certification?

AIRC™ Certification attests to the quality determined upon an external review of a recruiting agency which meets the AIRC Certification Standards for a designated period of time of no more than five years.  If an agency becomes Certified, it becomes a member of the AIRC community in which it has access to both our institutional and agency members through our secure institutional directory and annual conference. It has the opportunity to share ideas and it has access to professional development opportunities provided by AIRC.  Certified agency members can serve on our Board of Directors and committees. AIRC is a dynamic community of individuals which truly do learn from each other and who are quite proud of their designation. Our annual conference is a key event for certified agency and institutional members to come together. Certified agencies may also purchase (for a small fee) a table to display information about their agency at the conference. 

The AIRC™ Certification process follows global practice for quality assurance processes and consists of :
  •     A background check of the agency and its owners to determine
        any financial or ethical irregularities
  •     A vote by the AIRC Certification agency review committee
        to advance applicants to undergo certification
  •     A self study of agency operations based on the AIRC™ Certification
    (The Standards are also available in Chinese.)
  •     An external review of one or more offices as determined
        are appropriate and necessary
  •     A Call for Comments from the public on applicant agencies
  •     A review of all records and vote by an independent certification
        commission comprised of U.S. institutional members and
        education professionals.

Click here to watch a presentation about the Certification process.

Agency Certification Eligibility

AIRC Certification is intended for agencies (including organizations and companies), located both inside and outside the U.S., which recruit international students to accredited post-secondary programs or institutions anywhere in the world and who either have already recruited for U.S. programs or institutions or intend to do so.

For the purposes of AIRC membership and certification, an agency is defined as an organization, company or association that recruits and places students into accredited colleges, universities and other educational institutions on a commercial 'fee for service' basis. The term 'fee for services' refers to any payment made by an institution or an individual student applicant to an agency for services related to the counseling advice, application process and acceptance into a course or program in an educational institution. Individuals that provide placement services but have not established a company or individuals within an agency, including but not limited to shareholders, owners, directors, counselors and other staff are not eligible for AIRC certification or membership.

At the time of application for AIRC Certification, agencies are required to have been in the student recruitment business for two years, and have a successful record of placing students in accredited post-secondary programs or institutions. The date of first student placement must have been at least 18 months before the AIRC application is made.

Agencies must have a record of placing at least 25 students total before applying for AIRC certification. Agencies that are at least two years old but have placed between 25 and 50 students in accredited post-secondary programs or institutions may apply for AIRC Certification, however they may be awarded conditional certification until they have a more substantial record of student placements.

Agencies which have a successful record (at least two years of placement of at least 25 students) of placing students at U.S. accredited secondary schools only, and that intend to use this experience for recruiting students for the U.S. post-secondary programs and institutions, are also eligible to apply for AIRC certification.

A sub-agent is a person employed or contracted by the agency to transact the whole, or part of the student recruitment process.

A franchisee is an individual or company which licenses the rights to use an agent company’s trademarked name and business model to conduct business.

Agencies that engage sub-agents for part of the recruitment process or agencies that franchise their operations are eligible for certification. The agency applying for certification will be accountable for actions of the sub-agents and franchisees and any others working on behalf of the agency once AIRC certification is achieved.

The awarding of AIRC certification does not convey to sub-agents. Sub-agents may apply for AIRC certification independently.

The awarding of AIRC certification does convey to a franchisee of the agency provided the franchisee uses the agent company’s trademarked name and business model to conduct business.

An applicant agency is ineligible for certification if it or any principal or material owner thereof has been convicted of fraud or has pleaded no contest or guilty in a criminal proceeding or has been adjudged to have committed fraud in a civil proceeding within the last seven (7) years.

The AIRC™ Certification process is described in detail in the Certification Process and Standards Manual

An external review of one or more offices as determined are appropriate and necessary. Read about our External Reviewers here.

Start the application process now!
Top Reasons for Agencies to Join AIRC
  • Validate for US Institutions that certified agencies follow best practice
  • Contribute to a learning community of recruiting professionals
  • Network with institutions in a professional environment
  • AIRC certification process substitutes for a Management Consultant exercise
  • Promote to parents and students that the agency meets American standards
  • AIRC Certified agency members contribute to AIRC Governance and Standards development

Click Here to View Additional Questions About AIRC Certification


“After going through the certification process, I am confident that AIRC as an organization will create unique benchmarks of performance in the international student recruitment business. The process is innovative, visionary and fulfills a great need in the market. It was challenging to view [ourselves] from an external perspective.”

Sonya Singh, SIEC Global