A Program Release (PR) is when a student wishes to remain in the US after the end of the program for varying reasons (ie their parents will be coming to visit, they want to take vacation with the host family, etc). Students who successfully complete their program are able to remain in the US legally for up to 30 days after the end of the program/DS2019 expires. During this 30-day grace period, participants are no longer in J-visa status, and are under the jurisdiction of the USCIS. The USCIS grants this period to allow participants to settle their affairs and to prepare to return to their home countries. Program participants may no longer continue and/or complete exchange activities, nor may they work. Although participants may travel in the United States, it is recommended that they do not travel beyond the borders of the United States as they may not be permitted reentry.
Some countries do NOT allow their students to program release(CHN, GHA, JPN and more). Sponsored programs students (YES & CB) are also not able to PR.
1. A student/host family will let their volunteer know the student wants to stay longer in the US OR the AFS Partner country will contact AFS USA about the PR
2. AFS USA RTLC will contact the AFS partner country OR the RTLC will contact the local volunteer/host family AFS partner country will assist in changing the international ticket and have the natural parents sign a PR form
What a Program Release entails
- Students are no longer covered under AFS medical insurance as of the date of the PR
- The students/Natural Parents are responsible for any fees associated with changing the international ticket (this varies based on country/airline)
- The student/natural parents are responsible for booking and paying for the the domestic travel to the gateway city
- The student will not receive transit assistance at the gateway city
Students may either release from the program
- A few days prior to the end of the program and miss End of Stay
- Attend End of Stay and then release at the EOS site , ie host family picks them back up or natural family meets them. This is a PRES – Program Release at EOS
- At Departure Day in the gateway city. The student will travel to the gateway city with the team and then release from the program. This usually only happens if the natural parents are meeting them there. AFS USA does NOT allow students to travel back to their local community on AFS arranged transportation (ie the volunteer bus from Baltimore to NY).
Given the varied parties involved in processing a program release, the process can take anywhere from a week to a month. Please call your Regional Travel and Logistics Coordinator at 1-800-237-4636 with any questions. Please remember that the RTLC’s are not responsible for being the intermediary between the natural families and the partner offices. It is the full responsibility of the natural family to follow through with the sending partner to finalize all aspects of the program release.